Rebuilding on the ruins of our lives

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How God can use the most devastating moments of our lives to change the world

As I write this post, my husband and I are climbing the shore of Lake Superior…climbing rather than strolling because we’re not walking on a smooth sandy beach. We’re hiking over huge boulders, driftwood and slabs of cement intertwined with rebar…echoes of the past mixed in with the realities of the present. The cement and rebar remind me of the storms of life that can crash in on a person, leaving what we have worked so hard to build lying in a heap of ruins. Those ruins can be hard to look at, because they remind us of the pain we felt in the midst of those storms.

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Bible Verses For Times When You Need Peace

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“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“God has said, ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘the LORD is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5b-6

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;…Isaiah 43:1-2

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.” John 14:1

“I will listen to what God the LORD will say: he promises peace to his people, his saints – but let them not return to folly.” Psalm 85:8

“You who fear him trust in the LORD – he is their help and shield.” Psalm 115:11

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1,7

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” II Timothy 1:7

…“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

“The LORD has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. ” Isaiah 8:11-12

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36b

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come….’”Isaiah 35:3-4a

“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard; that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” Psalm 62:11-12

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

 

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2

“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.  When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the LORD, who remains faithful forever. ” Psalm 146:3-6

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:15

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” Luke 12:4

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

“Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” Isaiah 51:7b NIV

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.  Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, And of the son of man who is made like grass; That you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens, And laid the foundations of the earth; That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor?  The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. ‘For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name).  And I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’’”  Isaiah 51:12-16

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – The LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121

“‘Because he loves me’, says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.  My hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-8

“The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thes. 3:3

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:1-2

“If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:9-12

“…the fruit of the Spirit is…peace.” Galatians 5:22

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 2 Peter 5:7

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thes. 3:16

10 Tips for Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

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Fear is a tormenting emotion, and if you struggle in this area, you know what I’m talking about. It has the potential to cause us to walk away from engaging in life and keep us from being all we were created to be. If we allow it to rule over us, our world will become smaller and smaller until we have shut out much of what God wants to bless us with. The more control we hand over to fear, the more it will be empowered to steal from us.  It consumes. It drives. It steals sleep and drives us down paths we never thought we’d go. Fear can cause us to hide from God, from others and even from our true selves.

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Discerning between gossip and problem-solving

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“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

We’ve all done it. We’ve found ourselves caught up in conversations that we weren’t proud of, and someone else got hurt. Whether they knew it or not, their reputation had taken a hit, and the damage was done. Trying to undo that damage would be like trying to recover a basket of feathers thrown to the wind. If you’re like me, you may have found yourself asking, “Where does problem-solving end and gossip begin?” Or “How do I do life with ANYONE if I can’t discuss the problems at hand?” How do we discern the difference between problem-solving and gossip?  Here are some questions to ask yourself before talking negatively about someone:

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Choosing unity over division

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Division.  It seems to be hitting us on every level; national, regional, and individual. It has the potential to steal what is precious to us if we yield to it. Division can separate us from those we love the most; it can take down cities, corporations and nations if left unchecked. There are a few things I wish I’d known sooner in life about division that could have saved a lot of heartache:

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What is unsanctioned domination?

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Everyday, we each make decisions about who or what we will submit to, even if that decision is made by default, yielding or deferring. There is no such thing as living a life free of submitting to someone; even the most rebellious of men submit to someone. It’s not a matter of if we will submit as much as who we choose to submit to.

So first of all, let’s lay some groundwork. What does it mean to submit? To submit means to accept or yield oneself to a superior force or to the authority, opinion, (judgment or approval) or will (desire or insistence) of another person.

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Waking up to the spirit of heaviness

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Have you ever woke up to recognize the presence of heaviness? Even before you’ve started your day or had time to think about anything, it’s already operating. Today was one of those days. One of the first things I like to do in those situations is a self-check. I examine myself to see if there is any place where I have come into agreement with, or yielded to that spirit.  Isaiah 61 tells us that it is an evil spirit: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to…appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

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Fear of man and fear of God

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“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Have you ever found yourself distracted by other people’s opinions of you, afraid of their disapproval? Recently I found myself dealing with some dealing with some anxiety over a situation and began to suspect that fear of man was the root of it. In my search to understand the topic, I learned that this fear can mean to be afraid or intimidated, but it can also mean to revere or respect. Scripture gives us some markers we can use to know whether we fear God or fear man:

Markers that indicate agreement with fear of man/lack of fearing God:

  1. Decisions motivated by the approval of people. What we fear reveals who we love and whose approval matters most to us. In an article entitled, Lay aside the fear of man|Desiring God, {9.16.16} author Jon Bloom explains it this way: “The person(s) to whom we ascribe most authority — to define who we are, what we’re worth, what we should do, and how we should do it — is the person(s) we fear the most, because it is the person(s) whose approval we want most. God designed us this way, for it reveals who and what our heart loves.” See also 1 Samuel 15:24
  2. Taking Flight when the heat is on can also indicate when fear of man is present. Examples of this would be when Elijah (normally a man of great courage) ran from Queen Jezebel (1 Ki 19:1-3) or when the Israelite army ran from Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:23-24)
  3. Passivity when doing the right thing would require action.
  4. Mistreating others, exploiting their weaknesses/handicaps (Lev. 19:14), taking advantage of others because you can, (Lev. 25:15) treating subordinates ruthlessly (Lev. 25:43) or withholding kindness from a friend in distress (Job 6:14).
  5. Tolerating unholy domination
    • Allowing others who do not have God-given authority in your life to act as if they do (posturing authority) (1 Sam. 15:24)
    • Allowing someone who does hold a legitimate position of authority in your life to over-step the realm of legitimate authority. In Esther 3:5 we see Haman attempting to exercise unholy domination over Mordecai, but Mordecai refused because he feared God rather than man.
  6. Pride (Psalm 36:1-2)
  7. Finding refuge in places other than God (Psalm 31:19-29)
  8. A pattern of foolish actions/decisions (Proverbs 9:19)
  9. Hiding (1 Samuel 10:22; 15:24-25)

Markers of agreement with the Fear of God:

  1. Decisions are motivated by approval from God rather than people. Examples would be the midwives who refused to obey the King’s command to kill the newborn Israelite babies (Exodus 1:17-21)and Queen Esther going before the King in order to save her people at the risk of her own life. (Esther 4:15-16)
  2. Finding refuge in God (Psalm 31:19-20; 55:19;61:5) The reality that everyone needs refuge at times seems to be assumed in scripture. Not only do these individuals recognize their need for a refuge, but they tended to verbally express their need to God.
  3. Obeying God’s commands, even in the face of danger. (Eccl. 12:13-14, Job 1:9)
  4. Hating evil (Job 1:9)
  5. Idols in your life have been cast down (2 Kings 17:33-37)
  6. Treating others with justice and honor (Lev. 25:17; 19:14;25:35)
  7. Your life demonstrates wisdom, understanding, knowledge (Proverbs 9:19,Micah 6:9, Psalm 111:10)
  8. Remember the mighty acts of God (Deut. 7:18)

How to come out of agreement with Fear of man:

  1. Repentance
  2. Forgive those who have intimidated, threatened or harmed you
  3. Lean and obey God’s commands
  4. When you need refuge, go to God
  5. When obeying God involves risk, be willing to take a leap of faith
  6. Use your sword (the word of God) when intimidated
  7. Topple any idols in your life.
  8. Remember the mighty acts of the LORD

There are many benefits and promises for those who choose to fear the Lord rather than man, including:

  • The Lord will confide in you (Psalm 25:14)
  • You will rest satisfied (Proverbs 19:23)
  • You will be hidden from the conspiracies of man, sheltered from the sharp tongues of others (Psalm 31:19-20)
  • You will lack nothing (Psalm 34:7-9)
  • God will fulfill your desire (Psalm 145:18-19)
  • And many more!

Endurance

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” Romans 5:3-5a
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Have you ever found yourself going through a trial that just seemed to go ON and ON and you found yourself asking God if it was EVER going to end? I’ve been asking the Lord that question lately, wondering if this is something that I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life. In that place, I found myself squirming and resisting what the Lord was allowing. A dear friend reminded me of the peace that comes when we allow patience to weave its’ way around the trial that God, for some reason, is asking us to endure. Somehow the trial seems less painful when we stop squirming and surrender to God’s plan for our lives. Continue reading

Depression and Self-Pity

To a person who has never experienced depression, it would probably be easy to say, “Why don’t you just get over it?” But to the one suffering from it, things don’t look that easy.

During the years that I struggled with depression, I felt like my heart was bleeding. As much as my husband and friends tried to help, they eventually had to tend to other things, leaving me feeling abandoned in my pain. If I were to paint a picture of what that felt like, it was like I had been in a horrible car accident and was bleeding profusely. My friends and family would come and go, but no one was able to extricate me from the car and get me into an ICU. What others could not see is that I had been in an accident of sorts, but it wasn’t physical. It was emotional and spiritual. It sounded like such a comfort to me to die and go to heaven where the pain would be over.

To the person suffering from depression, telling them to “just get over it” sounds just as cruel as telling the person who has just been in a car accident who is bleeding profusely to “just get over it.” He or she is sometimes “navel gazing” because he or she is just trying to figure out how to survive. Continue reading