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The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Fear tracks my steps like a hunter. It knows my habits, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes and this-seems-impossible probability.

Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Like any predator, fear longs to cripple its prey, rendering her useless. Spent. Afraid to take action. As its presence draws close, it grows ever larger; assuming power over thought and imagination. Casting its shadow over hope, possibility, and a truth-based view of God’s matchless love and strength.

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.  Right now? I’m precariously balanced on the line between worry and anxiety. Perhaps you are, as well. You, too, may feel as though any circumstance that confirms your fear will catapult you into the hunter’s trap and once there, you’ll live out that which you’d dreaded in the first place. Every fear realized. Every dream obliterated.

An opportunist, fear resides in different areas of your life and mine. Some of us fear abandonment, loss of security, or being unloved and unseen. Others of us struggle with the fear of never being enough, failing as a wife or mother, or being without purpose. Still others fear what might become of a loved one who struggles with prodigal living, mental illness, or addiction.

God knows our hearts tremble and quake.He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situation.Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase 'do not be afraid' in scripture 70 times is because He knows us so… Click To Tweet

Friend, God knows our hearts tremble and quake. He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situations or circumstances and that our imaginations run wild with what-if scenarios and I-can’t-imagine-anything-good-coming-of-this myopia.

Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase “do not be afraid” in scripture 70 times (along with abundant variations) is because He knows us so well. He realizes we need to be reminded again and again and again of His power, strength and faithfulness because we lose sight of who He is.

We forget His promises.

We flounder in our faith and mistake it for abandonment.

We presume that our weakness equates to a similar weakness in God and we become discouraged or distraught.

But, we can engage fear and overcome it when we wage the battle on our knees and in our minds. The steps I’ve listed below are those that have proven most to helpful to me as I’ve managed my own fear fighting. I pray they encourage your heart as you stand up against fear in your own life.

Fighting Fear Power Plan

  • Prepare for Battle Read, recite and record Bible verses that address fear. These  are a few of my favorites and serve as a starting point. (Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:4) As you consider the Father’s words, notice how He is personally involved in the struggle against fear.
  • Dress for Battle Fear fighting encompasses mind and spirit, therefore, we must be clothed accordingly or we’ll be vulnerable to the assaults of the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 provides the strategy for us to put on God’s holy power and strength.
  • Engage in Battle Pray. Get real with God about your fear and allow Him to work in your heart and situation. Journal your prayers and pray scripture back to God. You might start with Psalm 27 ,David’s response to fear.

 

Peace and grace,                                                                                                                                      Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve experienced this struggle often enough and long enough to realize this is a battle won on two fronts–in my mind and on my knees.

 

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A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest,.png

I am a worrier. In fact, worry consumes more of my time than it should and traipses after me day and night. When my loved ones travel cross country? I fret. Will a careless driver hit the car somewhere between Colorado and California? When I drop my children at school in the morning? I worry. Will a madman introduce terror to young children and their teachers? When my college student discusses his plans to serve and share Jesus in far off countries rife with persecution? I chafe inwardly. Will my son be safe pursuing His call?

If you’re a worrier, you understand. It’s a battle to maintain balanced thinking in a wildly-out-of-control society. Still, scripture urges us not to “worry about tomorrow” because “each day has enough of its own troubles”. (Matthew 6:34)

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Click To Tweet

The Message reads like this, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

A neatly packaged three point mini-sermon, this verse outlines three habits that eliminate worry.

Focus on God What is He doing in our lives today? In this moment? Is there a lesson for us to learn? A calling to fulfill? A blessing to be noticed?

A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest, peace and joy. Click To Tweet

A heart overwhelmed by anxiety loses sight of the beauty in the everyday and forfeits soul rest, peace and joy. But we are face-to-face with a Father who longs to remove our burdens and take them upon Himself. He is equipped to carry each concern. To do the heavy lifting. To be God.

Forgo Fear Dwelling on the what-ifs shifts our focus from the possibilities of today to a mindset mangled by fear and opens the door to the Enemy’s wily ways of deceit. When fear takes hold we forget the greatness of God. We reduce Him to the size of our problems rather than comparing our troubles to the immensity of His power and perfect love.

When fear takes hold we forget the greatness of God. We reduce Him to the size of our problems rather than comparing our troubles to the immensity of His power and perfect love. Click To Tweet

Because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), we can rest in His love. We loosen our grip on the idea of control, immerse our minds in the Word of life, and practice being in His presence. He is able, friend, to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Find Strength in Him Worry draws us inward rather than upward. But, our answers aren’t discovered within. There, we experience anxiety. Discouragement. Even despair. Instead, our sure solutions are found in the One whose strength is displayed in our weakness. The One who forges paths in places where none existed before, brightens the darkness with Light, and presents mercies anew each day.

He is the Almighty God, friend. The Messiah who overcame death is more than able to manage our worries.

 

Action Steps

  1. List the 3 areas of your life that cause you to worry the most.
  2. Ask God to reveal His heart for these three areas. Write down the specific ways He wants to enter into your situation and concerns.
  3. Post Bible verses that remind you of God’s strength around your home or carry them in your bag. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.
  • Romans 16:25 (MSG) All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to          make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ…
  •  Isaiah 33:2 (NIV) Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every       morning, our salvation in time of distress.
  • Psalm 55:22 (NIV) Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will        never let the righteous be shaken.

Grace and peace,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My son’s pint-sized body huddled beneath the bed covers as if the thin cotton cover could shield him from any enemy. Since his father had deployed to Afghanistan, Seth’s fear had transformed into something destructive. An ever-growing-never-contained-despair rooted in the darkest anxiety.

The merest whisper of sound in the deep of the night trigged a near-panic response. Every stranger striding across the neighborhood’s suburban sidewalk? A possible adversary. My sweet boy was immersed in a world of imagined threats: kidnappings, fire, never-ending darkness.

Oh. My. Heart.

Despite his past experiences and regardless of my reassurances, Seth was convinced. Surely unknown, unseen enemies lurked beneath the child-sized bed along with half-assembled Lego sets and miniature race cars.

My words seemed not to penetrate. To reach the core of my child’s fear.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

The Israelites carried that same inconsolable, impenetrable fear through the desert thousands of years ago. Having been plucked from slavery and delivered safely through standing walls of water, an entire people stood overlooking the bounty and beauty of a land God had promised them.

At the Father’s instruction, twelve leading men were commissioned to explore the uncharted land of Canaan–to survey its cities,  peruse its people and weigh its wealth.

This land belonged to Israel in the same way that Israel belonged to the Father. It was gift-wrapped; held  in the open palm of the Father’s hand like a cluster of grapes hanging heavy in expectation of the harvest.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

Ignoring the certainty of their circumstances, God’s children allowed fear to dictate their decisions.

Huddling behind logic, the Israelites discounted Yahweh’s words, “Canaan [is] the land I am giving to the Israelites.” Numbers 13:2

He must not understand the presence. The power. The prowess of these people.

Hiding behind half-truths, the Chosen focus on fear until it rises a behemoth–ever greater, sending tentacles of untruth snaking through every tribe and leaving His men and women in mass hysteria.

Begging to return to bondage. Bad-mouthing their rescuers. Blind to their belief.

I see my face in the crowd. I’ve been that woman. The one for whom the imagined giants of Crisis and Complication ascend larger than any of His promises. Despite the Father’s faithfulness, I allow fear to command my choices and master my mind.

But, I long to be the Caleb in the crowd. Don’t you?

In opposition to a near-rebellion, Caleb admonishes, “Let’s go and take up the land–now. We can do it.” (Numbers 13:30 MSG)

Caleb doesn’t hesitate. There is no quavering in his voice nor quaking of the knees. Caleb knows his God and, grabbing hold of holy confidence, girds himself to join God on the journey.

I want to be the woman exhorting and encouraging, “Trust Him. He’ll take care of us. Don’t be afraid.”

Friend, fear only maintains power when we give it permission. But, when we grab hold of holy confidence and rely on Him for strength, our giants are reduced to rubble and we can move forward into the land of promise. Click To Tweet

In His grace and peace,                                                      Tammy

Action Step: Step out of fear and into the promises God has for you today. Download and complete this printable and use it to prompt you to remember His faithfulness when your spiritual knees are knocking. Click to access this resource. Fearnot

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Linking up at:

#porch stories,  https://www.crystalstorms.me/category/heart-encouragement/, and

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He has empowered us to release that which binds us.One thing. That was all that stood between the young man and his goal–eternal life. He sensed it. He knew there was more than earth and sky, heart and flesh, sorrow and pleasure. From childhood, he’d recited the Law and held to the traditions of his people.

But, rote prayers and methodical religiosity left him as empty as a cistern in a time of drought and the man wondered if he’d ever discover a life-giving well that might sate his spiritual thirst for something more than dry tradition and impossible standards. He’d worked earnestly since childhood—striving to be good enough. No lying. No cheating. No murder.

 Still…the ache for a taste of forever. For unmarred perfection. For heart satisfaction.

And something, or perhaps Someone, pricked at his soul. Ask. Seek. Knock.

The world, though, had been a place of solace despite the elusive inner ache and the man reminded himself of his good fortune. Didn’t he own fine homes? Possess old money? Demand the sort of respect and deference afforded a man of power and influence?

How disappointing to hear the Rabbi’s words, “One thing you lack.”

Glancing from Jesus to his disciples, the young man’s mouth might have been shaped in an “o” of surprise. How can I lack for anything? I hold devoutly to the commands of the Torah . Servants bend their will to mine and I have enough riches for the rest of my days.

Why must the Teacher make such a request?  “Give all your wealth to the poor and follow me.

But, the man “was holding on tight to many things and wasn’t about to let go”. Crestfallen, he turned away from Jesus, unwilling to give the one thing Jesus wanted. Himself. His heart, mind, and soul. Not just pennies in the offering plate or a few self-righteously lived moments marked off on a mental score board. Not a token sacrifice of time spent reading scripture or a prayer recited in a desperate moment.

Jesus asked the man to loosen his grip on that which kept them from knowing one another, devotion to something else. Devotion to wealth. Position. Comfort. Earthly security.

Though it grieved the young ruler, he held fast and chose the comfort of now in favor of the promise of a beautiful, forever-love. The man was unwillingly to exchange the vanishing riches of earth for the unmatchable mercy and grace of One who would momentarily die for his sins.

How many of us are like the rich young ruler—clutching that one thing? Holding it fast as if our life depends upon it?

We may have even professed our faith, but might be missing out on fully living in relationship with Christ as we grip that one thing to our hearts. Loving it. Elevating it to a place of prominence. Not willing to entrust it to Him.

Perhaps some us struggle with attachment to possessions, but there are hundreds of little gods that might thrust themselves into our relationship with Christ…a woman-made relationship barrier.

Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Discontentment.

Worry. Fear. A difficult past.

Is that one thing in your life or mine leaving our hearts parched? Needing to be washed afresh with Living Water?

Oh, dear one, may He gently reveal any lack in our lives and empower us to release whatever binds us to the earthly that we might turn our hearts fully toward heaven’s  Promise.

Blessings,       

Tammy

 

Scripture for Reflection

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  (Mark 10:17-31 ESV)

 

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woman-570883_1920I vividly remember standing beneath the wooden doorframe of my bedroom–terrified of the imagined evil lurking in the five inches of space beneath mattress and covers. I stood motionless…weighing the options. The risks? Certain punishment if I refused to quickly locate myself beneath the warmth of sleep-inducing blankets or—to my impressionable mind—possible capture by whatever monster or boogie man lurked beneath the confines of a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

At the tender age of four or five, Shadow had become a thing of nightmares and illusory power.

Too often, though, it seems our fear of Shadow follows us into adulthood. While disguised in more grown-up form, we still tremble at its existence and our thoughts are filled with untrue or unfulfilled imagery that leads us from a place of comfort into the obscure illusion of “What If?”

The “What If’s” come in many shapes and may be different for each of us.

What if…my husband leaves me?

 What if…my child dies?

 What if…I’m really never happy?

 What if…this wound refuses to heal?

 What if? What if? What if?

 

Oh, dear One, the Shadow of What If is—and always has been—a robber of joy and imitator of truth designed to obscure the Light of Hope. We fight each dark pursuer—out of breath and in need of relief. Somehow, we’re certain a jab or swing in the Shadow’s direction will ensure some sort of relief. So we listen to Oprah…read books by Dr. Oz…try the newest diet trend…anything to help us battle the dark, elusive threat that is our greatest Fear.

But in so much of the struggle we rely on ourselves—forgetting the promises of scripture. Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we’re surrounded by a darkness so deep it casts death’s shadow, He is there! Even in the most frightening of times or the loneliest moments he guides…protects…comforts. He is the one who will manage our struggles and wage our battles.

Our futile attempts at Shadow boxing can cease. No more useless jabbing or dodging. Let’s give the battle to the Champion of hearts and souls—the giver of life, conqueror of death, and victor over sin and its effects.

 Suggested Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Read Psalm 23.

What dark valleys has God guided you through already? If your journey is taking you through a place filled with Shadows are you relying upon the Shepherd—or self? I know I struggle with this–vacillating back and forth.

As a gentle reminder to yourself about God’s abounding faithfulness and protection, reread Psalm 23. This time, replace each “me” with your name and “my” with the pronoun “her”.

A David Psalm (MSG)

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

 

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It’s that vacuous, indefinable place between here and there when—like Dante—you awaken near the edge of a dark valley. The valley yawns wide…deep…threatening and you squint your eyes searching for even the dimmest light beckoning in a direction—any direction.

But, fear prohibits the slightest movement. What lies ahead? Maybe it’s safer to remain on the precipice of the Unknown rather to wander aimlessly.

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cliff

 

 

My limbo? It became reality five years ago when my husband deployed to the dusty, foreign lands of Afghanistan. One morning, we were laughing together over coffee and the next Dave was gone. For ten months, his place at the table remained empty and my heart was filled with fear…grief…anxiety.

For some, this prolonged state of uncertainty might come on the heels of a divorce. It may have been realized when the doctor uttered the word, “Cancer” or the day you finally admitted your child struggles with depression. There are hundreds of entry points into Nowhere—financial struggles, abuse, job changes, death of a loved one.

But limbo?   It’s a counterfeit imitation of hell meant to interrupt joy, dispel hope, and distract away from the beauty of living. I’m not saying limbo is always avoidable.  We may need to experience it for a time. I’m not denying we’ll all deal with the difficult and feel lost sometimes.

I am suggesting we seize that evasive, empty place and fill it with whatever is true before limbo is the habit and living disappears.

Instead of dwelling in the dissatisfaction of Nothingness, we can choose Something.

How?

We remain in the present—in the moment. Worry robs us of the time we might enjoy today because our focus has shifted to the what-ifs of tomorrow. Mindfulness opens us up to hope and possibility.

Matthew 6:34 exhorts, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

I encourage you, dear friend, to take a step…move ahead. Your refuge is in the Rock—not on the edge of one.

 

 

 

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Now faith is being sure of what we hope for…Hebrews 11:1

 

The beautiful garden unfurled its colors near the old, gray corral–a ranching remnant from the early 1900’s.  Nestled between the meandering creek and dusty country road, rows upon rows of corn, cabbage, peppers, and carrots displayed their bounty.  My mother spent hours there–tending the plants as if they were children in need of care.

The peeling, unsightly skin on her shoulders and her roughened hands were testimony to a dedication I didn’t share.  Many times, I grudgingly held my small pail in the potato patch.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”  The thought of touching the parasitic beetles still sends my stomach reeling.

But, as much as I detested the potato bugs there were other things I found far more frightening and insidious.  I never knew if they were lying in wait–keeping quiet watch beneath the shelter of a massive squash plant or strawberry bush.  Rattlesnakes–poised to strike and hidden in the most unsuspecting of places.

That garden…those pests…the dangerous vipers.  Now that I have two teenagers, I often feel this simple farmer’s garden represents my life as a parent.  I run about–picking away at those dangers I see lurking on the surface.  I teach my children to believe…hope…pray.  Yet, I scurry about the fertile soil of their lives searching for danger.  “Pick off those bugs, Tammy!”

And my worst fears?  Those enemies lurking somewhere in the hidden places that I can’t see?  What am I to do about those?  I might be aware of their presence.  I may even be able to offer a warning.  Ultimately, though, I need to trust the Gardener of their souls–the One who bent to the earth and scooped their souls into His tender arms.  I may fear the danger, but He sees the bounty of a beautiful harvest.

 

Questions for Reflection

What is your greatest fear?  Are there any steps you can take to give that concern to God?

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