Hard To Love…

Handwriting - Love

(FreeImages.com/BobSmith)

I was grumbling in my bathroom today that some people are so difficult to love.  I immediately heard the Lord speak back to my heart: “Love isn’t about you.”

Talk about a readjusted perspective!

It can be very difficult to love some people.  Love though isn’t about the person doing the loving (us).  Love is about the person we are loving.  

If “love” is about us, it’s not love.  It’s selfishness.

Ouch!

Agape love is the purest and most authentic form of love because it doesn’t expect anything in return.  It’s not given based on the recipient’s worthiness or likability.  It can’t be limited or withheld based on an infraction.

Love just pours itself out without any thought of itself.  Love is never about self.  Love is about the other person.

The following passage in Scripture reaffirms that love is the strongest character quality and emotion of all:

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I was thinking that fear is a very strong emotion, but notice how love is more powerful than fear.  Love is truly the “trump card.”

1 John 4:18

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Advertisements

Fear Versus Love

Handwriting - Love

(FreeImages.com/BobSmith)

Struggling with fear?

How do you live fearlessly in a world that has hidden dangers, agendas, and impending hurts?

What’s wrong with protecting oneself? 

How do you love fearlessly in a dangerous and abusive world?

How do you trust when it may mean being hurt again?

Trust is essential to any good relationship, but doesn’t it make sense to hold back and keep your “best cards” hidden?

Sound familiar?

Want to know what the answer to fear is?

It’s living loved.

That simple.

How do we live loved though if we don’t believe we are loved fully?

How do we offer what we don’t have or haven’t received (accepted/believed)?

There are some very clear differences between love and fear:

Fear walls against, locks out, controls, tries to predict, measures, withholds, imprisons, incapacitates…

Love empowers, gives freedom, enables, expands, gives generously, is limitless, hopes, receives, believes…

Fear is the scarcity mentality.  It is a prisoner to the past and a prisoner to the unknown and what-ifs.  It fears and expects the worst, instead of believing the best.

Fear holds any new relationship prisoner and answerable to the wounds of the past. The present and future are never released from the wounds of the past.

Fear says that my future is only preserved by hoarding my present.

Fear refuses to be vulnerable and transparent.

Love though is the abundance mentality.  It overflows.  It releases the present and future from the wounds of the past.

Each new relationship is received with the openness that comes from freedom from the past and a hope for the future. 

Love focuses on others rather than protecting self.

Love is able to be vulnerable because to be loved is to be secure.  When there is true security, there is no fear of vulnerability.

Love is an expanding force.  It expands our borders, expands our abilities, expands our hopes, expands our giving and our receiving…

The relevance to understanding the difference between love and fear as it applies to my life and to your life is this:

I.  Fear is rooted completely in self.  It is completely self-centered and as a result imprisoning.  It holds you, your circumstances, your dreams, your life purpose, and your loved ones prisoner to what hurt or scared you in the past and what might hurt or scare you again in the future.

You will never grow, expand, or be “all in” for God so long as you are a prisoner of your past.

II. Love is bigger than self and expands me beyond myself, my fears, my borders, my experiences, my past.

In order to live fearlessly, you must learn to live fully loved.

As I was contemplating this, I immediately thought of the verse:

1 John 4:18

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

A Religious Spirit

shame

(FreeImages.com/KatherineEvans)

The Religious Spirit…

But first my story…

I grew up in a loving, Christian home.  I read my Bible, attended Sunday School and church services whenever the doors were open, prayed, studied the Bible…  I attended a Bible college, got involved in mission work, did everything I could to honor and pursue the Lord.  My heart was to please the Lord.  All good, right?

As the years passed, I began to realize that my life consisted a lot in doing.  The Christian life had become a struggle — a struggle to do and trying to be by doing.

“…trying to be by doing.”

I felt more like an onlooker rather than a participant in the realities of the love and power in the “Kingdom” of God.

“…felt more like an onlooker rather than a participant…”

I remember crying out to God for Him to increase my love — to return me to my “first love.”

I knew all of the right things (for the most part), did all of the right things (for the most part), but inwardly, I knew that something was lacking.

God began to reveal to me that I was trying to relate to Him intellectually and through self-righteousness.

Relating to God on an intellectual basis is very easy to do!  It’s especially easy if we are more analytical in our approach, more fear-based, only allow what we can understand into our lives, prefer security, prefer predictability, avoid vulnerability, etc…

I am going to step out on a limb here and say that a religious spirit summarizes this pursuit of God by doing.

The religious spirit is a struggle to be enough by doing enough.

It is looking to self and relying on my own actions to measure my worthiness and His approval of me.  It is all self-focused.

Intellectualism ties into the religious spirit because it is trying to convince myself, God, and others that I am worthy, spiritual, and have a relationship with God, based on what I know about Him.

I am very thankful for all that I did and still do in my life to seek God and to learn more about Him, but what I was lacking before was knowing Him intimately instead of as an onlooker. 

Note: I was a Christian at this point.  I was pursuing God and loved Him to the best of what I knew as love.  The point is, my love wasn’t very great because I didn’t understand and hadn’t received the fullness of His love for me.

I wasn’t experiencing the full reality of God because I didn’t fully understand His love for me. 

I still don’t.  It will take me a life-time and an eternity to comprehend the vastness of His love for me because it is infinite — without limits.

What happens though when we have a religious spirit is we truly don’t comprehend that His love is not based on us/me.  It’s not given in measures, based on how I perform or don’t perform.

His love for me has nothing to do with how I perform, how I pray, how I worship, how much I know about Him, how much I serve Him.

His love has everything to do with Him!

We define love by our own experiences or the lack thereof.  We think that God’s love is like what we have experienced and how we operate: given to those who like us or treat us well or that we like for some reason.  This is why we so easily “fall in and out of love.”  It’s really not love out all.  It’s self-gratification.

Within us all is this longing to be loved like what God offers: unconditional, infinite, lavish.

We want someone to love us — I mean really love us.  We want someone to know everything about us: all the good, bad, and ugly — and to love us anyway.

We are tired of trying to be enough by doing enough.  We are tired of trying to earn love.  What an agonizing struggle!  What a sure way to suffer defeat, discouragement, shame, and guilt!

Does that mean there are no actions to our love?

Absolutely not!  Authentic love will flow out into actions.  It always is seeking to serve, to minister, to heal, to help, to release, to free…

The difference though is the root/heart motivation.

Is what we do motivated by trying to “please God” by doing?  What we really mean by this is: “We don’t believe God is pleased with the way we are — that we are enough or loved the way we are — so we are trying to earn His love.”

This doesn’t mean change won’t occur. In fact, real change — real life transformation — occurs when we begin to live from the flow of His love for us and allow it to change the entire reason for the way we live. 

Living for God no longer becomes about earning or doing enough to be enough.  It becomes about surrendering to Him with full trust because we know He is good because of the reality of His love for us.

People can preach, teach, and tell you a lot about God’s love.   You can preach, teach, and define God’s love, but until you have experienced the depths of His love personally, you will always be an onlooker to the realities of the wonder of God and His love for you!!!

As I blogged awhile ago now, Job learned the reality of God in the middle of His sufferings.  He was a righteous and faithful man before his sufferings and honored by God, but as he states later in the chapter, it was through his sufferings he experienced the reality of God.  His understanding of God was no longer intellectual and from an onlooker’s perspective.  He now had a “front-line,” reality of it!

Job 42:5

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.

What is your reality today?

What is your motivation for living and for what you are pursuing?

Do you really comprehend that God loves you completely just. the. way. you. are?

Do you understand that He wants you for your sake?

Do you understand that His love isn’t constraining or confining?  It sets your soul and spirit free to truly soar!

Do you understand that God isn’t interested in what you know about Him?  He is interested in you knowing Him.

God doesn’t want you to be a spectator to the realities of His love for you.  He wants you to be “reveling” in its bounty, wonder, and overflowing abundance!

My Former Life In A Nutshell…

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/growing-up-gothard

I am going to link to this guy’s blog post because it summarizes in a nutshell what it was like growing up under the influence of ATI (Advanced Training Institute/Bill Gothard program).

I love how this guy describes his home as a loving home!  Mine was too, and I love my parents!!  They did a lot of good, but we were raised within the ATI culture.  This guy’s article explains a lot of the issues I have with the philosophies of the ATI movement/teachings.

This guy is right on when he explains about the constant pressure to be perfect.  I remember that so well and my twisted view of God, as a result.

I didn’t want to get close to a God who seemed to be always waiting for my next moment of sin/failure and who seemed like He only punished with no full restoration or hope of redemption in sight.  It was taught that consequences were God’s judgment on us; there was no concept of redemption for even our consequences.

It was definitely a place of much fear!  Parents wanted to raise their kids to turn out godly.  So in fear, they pulled them from the world, even from among other Christians, sometimes family members, and society.  They thought that by secluding them, they could produce a more godly generation.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, the issue with this is, they forget that there is evil within not just without.  The heart is what matters!

They also lived from fear.  What they didn’t realize is that reacting to our fears will not lead us into freedom but just into another form of bondage.

We never want to raise our children from a position of fear but from God’s leading.  The safest place to be is always within the center of God’s will.

An interview with a former ATI student that really explains what it was like growing up Gothard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQy4LGUQRg.

 

What We Fear Reveals Truth About Ourselves

Sunset

(FreeImages.com/Tatyana Khramtsova)

As I was studying God’s Word today, spending time in prayer, and journaling what God was teaching me, God began once again to convict me and to show me some truths concerning a present battle I am facing.

I am facing the battle of fear concerning a particular situation.  Without relaying more details, let’s just say that this situation has been discouraging.  In fact, in referring to the situation, I have used hopeless terms to describe it.

This morning, God began to speak to me concerning this battle.  He began to reveal to me that the battle I am called to fight requires a long-term commitment and perseverance.  It’s not a battle that is going to be won with a few “skirmishes.”  Another way of putting it is that it’s not a “sprint” that I am called to run but a “marathon.”

God was reminding me that so often when God’s timing differs from mine, I begin to look to others, try to “help” God out by “fixing” the problem by my own methods or means, or begin to accept failure and mentally “check” the situation off as being a losing one and then try to find something else that appears to possibly be more successful.

God was speaking to my heart that the reason why I am not having victory is because I have written “failure” across the situation.  I have assumed the battle is lost or losing so I begin to “back pedal,” compromising my belief in God and His promises and as a result, compromising my actions.  Before long, what I fear comes to pass.

I believe God was prompting me to look at the significance of what I fear.

The question is, “What are we fearing today?”

What you and I fear will reveal the true condition of our heart and beliefs.  They will also be a good indicator of where we are headed.

If our faith in God is solid, we will be able to see past the temporary discouraging distractions of our present situations to the eternal or “bigger picture” of God’s purposes and plans.

Faith is the “key” that unlocks our “spiritual eyes.” 

We can know the truth, but until we believe/embrace it, we’ll never recognize or experience the reality of it personally.

Our relationship with God consists not in what we know about God but in Who He is to us.  What is He to you?

You may say and know that God is gracious, just, righteous, compassionate, etc…, but is He your grace, your righteousness, your compassion today?

Who is He to you?

The Connection Between Pride And Fear

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/osprey-leaving-nest-1547342)

I believe God gave me one of those “light-bulb” moments when I began to realize there is a big connection between pride and fear.

At first glance, they can seem like total opposites.

Pride seems to indicate self-reliance and an over-inflated ego/view of oneself.

Fear, on the other hand, seems to speak of the opposite.  It speaks of self-doubt, doubt of others, circumstances, objects, and events.

The opposite of these two negative qualities is that of faith and humility.

Humility speaks of a sweet submission, a concern for others, and love.

Faith speaks of trust, reliance, and a measure of humility as well.

Just as pride and fear go hand-in-hand so do faith and humility.

When people are self-absorbed, we would call them proud.

What produces an obsession with self?

I believe that a lack of contentment and resting in the Lord brings about a preoccupation with ourselves. 

When we are “complete” in Him, we are secure in who we are in God, and we don’t need the validation of others.  It is insecurity that causes us to be preoccupied with ourselves.

What is faith — the true definition of faith?  Is it not a complete trust in the Lord and submission to Him?

Pride relies or trusts only in itself and will not allow itself to be mastered by anyone else.

It takes faith to humble ourselves before God.  It takes humility to submit ourselves to the care of God.

Faith is submitting oneself to the care of someone or something.

Fear, on the other hand, refuses to completely surrender to anyone or anything other than its own rationalizations or self-preservation.

For example, if I have an improper fear of riding in a car, I will refuse to get in one or will ride in it while anxiety roils through me.

There is no sense of security or peace while I am encountering the object I fear.

When I am proud, I am relying on myself — my own rationalizations, self-preservation, and strength to protect me.  I am my own “master.”  As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything and thus I live in fear of the things that I can’t control.

Let me reiterate that again because it’s worth repeating:

As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything; and thus, I live in fear of the things that I can’t regulate, contain, or dominate.

An indication of both fear and pride being alive in my life is if I struggle with “control.” 

Those who are able to put their trust/faith in the Lord and surrender to Him (in humility) experience the greatest peace and flexibility.  They understand that relying on themselves is the greatest position of weakness, but relying on God, the Great I am, is their greatest source of security.  They are confident and “relaxed” because they are “resting” in God — in Who He is — rather than in who they are themselves.

Pride produces fear.  It’s that simple.  It’s also a good chance that if you “suffer” with pride, you “suffer” with fear.  The opposite is also true: if you “suffer” with fear, it’s a good chance you “suffer” with pride.

Humility and faith are two of some of the best characteristics for walking in freedom.

Humility frees us from the bondage of self.  Faith frees us from the bondage of everything else, including ourselves.

Knowing the above truths have caused me to look more closely at my own heart and life and to be convicted of more areas that need to be yielded to the Lord.  It’s not from fear or “self-righteousness” that I confess these things but because I desire to walk in greater freedom in my spiritual walk.

What Does “Fear of God” Mean?

Scanner Fear 3

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/scanner-fear-3-1251133)

In Scripture, there are dozens – more like hundreds – of verses on “fearing” God.

When my husband and I were recently discussing this topic of “fearing” God, he was saying, “People should fear God.”  My response was, “If the only response this fear produces is to run from God rather than submit to God, it is pointless.  It’s a sinful fear that produces nothing good.  If though people fear God correctly, they will repent and turn to God.  That is the only kind of fear that is good.  In other words, not all fears of God are good.” (BTW, we both agree on this.)

Let me explain in more detail…

Is all “fear of God” correct or good?

What does it mean to “fear God”?

In the beginning of time, we see when Adam and Eve first “feared” God and what was the cause and result of that fear.

Genesis 3:6-10

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Here we see one type of “fear” of God.  This is what I would call “sinful fear.”  This kind of fear causes us to recognize the power of God, but instead of yielding to it, we run from it.

When confronted with the righteousness and power of God, we have a response to make.  We either repent and submit ourselves to God, or we reject Him/rebel and run from Him.

There are many verses that talk about the right type of “fear” of God.  Perhaps, this is better described as such overwhelming respect/awe that we are humbled and surrender our own wills to Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12

The Essence of the Law

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Psalm 89:7

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him

The wrong kind of fear trembles at the power of God, still clings to its own self-preservation and will, and runs from or opposes the will of God.

The following verses describe the wrong kind of fear that the world has:

Philippians 2:10

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

The world will “bow” before God but not in reverence/submission.  (At the confrontation of His Power, there is no physical strength left to stand in His Presence.)

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, unbelieving,[a] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Psalm 67:7

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

The world will “fear” God but not to submit to Him.

James 2:19

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

The demons “fear” God.  They fear His power but not in the “right” sense — that which leads them to submit or to repent.

To simplify this, godly “fear” leads us to repentance.  Sinful “fear” causes us to run, hide, rebel, just like we saw Adam and Eve do.

I believe that sinful fear is inter-connected with pride.  Rather than repenting, we run from God, which means we are relying on ourselves.

I believe that self-reliance is the definition of pride.  It is independence from God, which is sin.  See my earlier blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/the-simplicty-about-sin.

God had shown me earlier that rebellion comes from distrust.  God then posed the question to me: “From where does distrust come?”

Distrust can come from wounds, but it can also come from learning to rely on ourselves (self-reliance) which is pride.

This is the key thought:

Self-reliance is the flesh’s sinful response to lies about God as a result of the hurts we have experienced. 

We all experience wounds in this world — some to a greater extent than others.  It is how we respond to those wounds that changes everything!

There is one more aspect in regards to the “fear of God” that we need to discuss.  It’s the concept of consequences.

In the past, what I thought was “fearing God” was really more about fearing the consequences of my sins.

When I was walking more in fear of my consequences, I would confess quite regularly, but my motivations were fear-based.  I was “obeying” to the extent that I wanted to avoid the consequences and was terrified of them.

When I wrongfully fear my consequences, what am I in essence believing?

I am believing that I have gone too far or made too big of a mistake for God to redeem them.

The truth is so long a I am truly repentant and have submitted my new set of circumstances to God, He can redeem even them.

The fear of consequences motivates the more “fleshly-minded” Christian.  The “spiritual” or God-filled man is motivated by relationship — his/her relationship with God.

When I fear my consequences more than I fear God, my consequences themselves can become a “god” in my life.  They can become “larger” than God in my heart.  This becomes obvious when the fear of my consequences leads me to fear them more than believing God is in control of them.

When I truly repent and submit myself to God, He can redeem even the most horrific consequences and use them to bring good.  (See Rom. 8:28.)

Nothing is beyond the reach of God.

God is not mastered by anyone or anything.  Satan nor us can “put one over” on God.

He is Sovereign!

 

When Life Seems To Be In The “Hold Pattern”

The clock on the mall.

According to my digital camera (which has never lied to me in the past), this picture was actually taken at 10:33 p.m. - NOT at 7:48, as the clock would have you believe. In fact, I can say with 100% confidence that it was ...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=73594&searchId=05531b19bb846b18c09f979eeb429ad3&npos=28)

Maybe, you clicked on my blog because life right now seems to be at a stand-still for you.  Your dreams don’t seem to be coming true.

If you are like some of my friends, you are suffering through chemotherapy, waiting for your husband to get a job before you get kicked out of your house in a week or few, you are longing for a baby to hold in your arms and heart, you are wondering when the guy you love will finally awaken to the fact that you can be something other than his best friend, you are wondering when your spouse will finally be awakened spiritually and will be able to share in all the blessings of knowing Jesus personally, you are clinging to hope that your rebellious child will finally surrender their life to God, you’re wondering when all the physical pain will finally end or if the doctor will finally discover something to truly help…  I hear all of those cries…  I know how hard simply waiting can be — perhaps it’s one of the hardest things we have to do at times.

Perhaps, waiting is so hard because waiting requires us to surrender and to trust.

Waiting means we have to let go of our own plans, our own timing, and we have to submit to and wait on a Higher Power.

When we grow anxious in our waiting, we have to camp ourselves — our minds and hearts on the truth of Who God is and of who we are in God. 

God is Jehovah Jireh — our Provider!

God is Jehovah-Shalom — our Peace!

God is Jehovah-Rophe — the God Who heals!

God is Jehovah-Tsidekenu — our Righteousness!

God is Elohim — the Sovereign One!

God is Adonai — Lord and Master!

God is Jehovah-Shammah — the God Who Is Present!

God is Jehovah-Tsebaoth — the Lord of hosts!

God is El-Shaddai — our Abundancy!  God is the One who abundantly supplies all of our needs.

In the blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/when-waiting-seems-to-be-the-only-action-occuring, it is mentioned that God’s timing is just as important as His answer or His specific will.

So often when we are waiting on some future dream or hope or relief, we seem to think that our present is just an “empty” time that needs to be filled, endured.  We think we are just “passing time.”

God though is concerned about your now.  Your now is not outside of His Presence or care.

I love the following quotes from Discerning The Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer:

God has invited you to join Him in His plans.  The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing.  He orchestrates both events in your life and their timing.

The timing of the call was just as important as the call itself… I would have tried to rush ahead of God instead of waiting for His timing before I was emotionally or spiritually equipped for the demands I currently face.

God will use the appropriate means to reveal His will in His timing. 

Much of the heartache and frustration I have encountered in discerning God’s voice came because I wanted it before God was ready to give it.  I wasn’t willing to trust God’s timing in revealing His plans for me.  I tried to place my time constraints on God.

His timing is best.

Knowing too much too soon can be detrimental.

When we feel rushed and hurried to make a decision not rooted in a deep confidence of inner peace, God probably has not spoken.  Nowhere in Scripture does God tell anyone to rush into making a decision.  On the contrary, He patiently and persistently gives us clarity before requiring obedience.  If you feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously, pull in the reins.

I love that quote!  “God has invited you to join Him in His plans.” 

When life seems to be in a “hold pattern,” it’s not because God is keeping you from something good or that He is unaware of your plight.  It means that God is doing something good in you while you wait, if you surrender to Him.

Discerning the Voice of God also says, “Our shepherd leads, He doesn’t drive.  One difference between the Enemy’s voice and the Shepherd’s is that Jesus doesn’t coerce us with fear or intimidation.  He gently encourages and woos.”

John 10:2-4

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

In John 10:2-4, it says that Jesus, our Shepherd, calls us by name and leads us.  He shows us the way we are to go.

  • God invites us to be a part of His will.
  • He leads us and guides us in His will.
  • His Presence accompanies His will.

There is protection and provision for the sheep that follow their Shepherd.

There is joy and peace when we traverse the paths that our Heavenly Shepherd has for us.

Dear friend, no matter your circumstances today and when things seem hopeless right now, believe the truth.  The truth will anchor your soul and keep you secure in the midst of the tumult.

One final excellent quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

My acceptance of His timing was a rigorous exercise in trust.  I was tempted to charge the Lord with negligence and inattention, like the disciples in the boat in a storm.  They toiled frantically until the situation became impossible and then instead of asking for Jesus’ help, they yelled, “Master, don’t you care that we are drowning?” They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.  It was not too late.  Jesus got up and merely spoke to the wind and sea.

“They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.”

Today, when you feel the drudgery of the monotony, the worries for tomorrow, the pain of today, hang on to the truth.  God is not too late for His will. 

His will is always accomplished in the perfection of His timing.

Is It Fear God Versus Love God?

<b>Happy Eid to you, this is my gift (عيدي) for you :)</b>

We didn't pick that lovely rose. She just held it between her hands (huged it!) and I shoot this for you!

---------------------------------------------------...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2095855&searchId=b5c0b187fe309af0f4d35982fd961d7e&npos=5)

There seem to be two camps of thought when it comes to God: those who focus on the fear of God and those who focus on the love of God.

Is it possible though to have both the fear of God and the love of God?  Or are they mutually exclusive of each other?

Does fearing God contradict loving God?  And does God’s love contradict His justice?

When it comes to loyalty to God, which of these two (the fear of God or the love of God) produces unwavering loyalty?

These are all questions that I have been mulling over for several weeks, probably years really.

First of all, is there a Biblical basis for the fear of God?  If so, what does the Bible mean when it says “fear God”?

Exodus 20:20

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Leviticus 19:14

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

Luke 5:26

26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Hebrews 12:28

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

In the above Scriptural passages, we can see that “fear of God” is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments.

What exactly is this “fear of God”?

Psalm 22:23

23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you [a]descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you [b]descendants of Israel.

Psalm 33:8-11

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it [a]stood fast.
10 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 119:120

120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws.

These passages show us that fearing God is being awe-struck with His character.  I love what the book, Freedom From Fear, says about the fear of God:

To fear God is to be awestruck with God’s character and Word.  It is a state of deep reverence that can cause us to tremble before Him because of His righteous judgments.  The fear of the Lord is also joyful praise and worship of His glory, resulting in humble obedience to His will.

Fearing God is not a law-based principle, but rather, it is an eternally enduring aspect of our relationship to God.

…in the hearts of those who fear Him there is an unspoken language of faith, a bowing down with humility before One infinitely greater and more magnificent than self.

The sheer magnitude of His glory and greatness does not diminish over time.  Familiarity does not breed contempt of the Almighty.

We revere God in the sense that we have the ultimate respect for Him…  We also fear God because He has the power to judge and His attributes make Him the only legitimate fear object (He is both omnipresent and omnipotent).  This healthy and balanced knowledge of God provides for us a sanctuary from all unhealthy fears.

Scripture is also replete with verses, stating God’s love and revealing His mercy, grace, longsuffering, kindness, forgiveness.

Is God’s justice in opposition to His grace, or do they work in coordination with each other?  In my blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/grace.  In this blog, a key phrase is “God’s grace can only be understood in the context of His justice.”  The question is asked, “What is grace without justice?”  Grace implies that justice was required and necessary.

The book, Freedom From Fear, states this: “…the hammer fell!  It fell on Christ.  The punishment we deserved has already fallen on Christ.”

We fear or reverence God because of both His holiness, justice, and because of His undeserving grace and tender mercies. 

Loving God and fearing God work in coordination to reflect the perfection of both God’s holinesss that requires justice and of His love that offers grace and forgiveness. 

The following Scriptural passages reflect both the fear or reverence of God and the mercies of God — all within the same verses:

Psalm 103:11

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;

Psalm 103:13

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Psalm 118:4

Let those who fear the Lord say:
    His love endures forever.

Psalm 147:11

11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

 It is reverence (“fear of God”) and love for God that purifies our lives, propels us to submit to Him, impassions us to yearn after Him and to follow Him. 

It is the recognition of how awe-inspiring He is and then that He would love us that causes us to be amazed with Him!  It is this awe and this love that compels us to follow Him in faith.  This is the foundation of loyalty.  This is the reason why generations of Christians have suffered horrific persecution out of loyalty and love for the One Who died to save them and who continues to be their All.

When our eyes are opened to God as He truly is, nothing else really matters.  Running to Him as the holy, forgiving, loving sanctuary that He is becomes an all-consuming passion and priority.  Pride, guilt, shame, and fear are swept clean by the fear of God and replaced with humility, forgiveness, affirmation, and faith.  All this happens when we have a truth encounter with the living God. (From Freedom From Fear)

How does “fearing God” actually offer us the peace and protection we all need and desire?

Here’s what Freedom From Fear says on this:

A sanctuary was the place where God manifested His presence to His people.  It was a holy place of communion with the Almighty … His presence would always be a sanctuary for His people.  …The fear of the Lord was the door that opened that sanctuary, which is not a physical location or building at all.  It is the presence of God!  New Testament believers find their sanctuary in Christ, which is a spiritual position, not a physical location.

Why do so many of us react to God’s Presence or His holiness with a type of fear that cripples and enslaves?  Could it be that it’s our response to God that produces two very different types of “fear”?

When we are made aware of our own sins and of His justice and righteousness, we can react in two different ways:

  • We can understand that God is a good and loving God — that seeks to purify us from all that would harm us, and we can run to Him.  The right kind of “fear” or awe causes us to run towards God, understanding the freeing power of His love that seeks to purify us from all that enslaves and cripples us.
  • The other response is not believing God is good in every sense and loving; and so instead, we run away from Him. The wrong kind of fear causes us to hide, to rebel, to follow after all the things that actually harm us rather than free us.

We are most tempted to run from God when we feel dirty or defiled, but that is the time when we need Him the most … It was God who first came to Adam after the fall, and it is God who takes the initiative to come to uswe are saints in the hands of a loving God, Therefore, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (From Freedom From Fear)

The answer to fearing God and loving God is that it takes both. 

God’s love was manifested in how He fulfilled His justice on the cross.  His love and grace is what continues to seek after us and draw us to Himself.  His righteousness is what purifies us and offers us freedom.

It is all of this plus more that causes us to stand in awe of Him and to surrender to a God who is completely trustworthy because He can offer us a true sanctuary that is free from all that is destructive to us.

As Christians, we can stand in awe of God but not from afar.  We stand in awe of Him because we know personally the security of being in His Presence.  It is with joy, we follow Him and look to Him for our all!

Afraid Of My Children… Part Two… The Cause And The Solution

I detailed in my recent blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/afraid-of-my-children-part-one, we can fear that which we cannot control and our need for control is indicative of a fear problem.

Our need for control isn’t just indicative of a fear problem; it is indicative of a trust problem.

Understanding the cause and specifics of our trust problem will also lead us to the solution.

Healing isn’t just the absence of the problem, hurt, or sin.  It’s the presence of the opposite: new life, peace, joy, the power of His Holy Spirit.  It’s the Presence of God.

In other words, when we have a problem in a specific area it means that we don’t just have a problem with fear, for instance.  We have a problem with faith — more specifically with our relationship with God. 

When we have a problem with our identity, it means we have a problem with seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We have a problem with our relationship with God because you can’t see yourself as God sees you, if you don’t know personally how God sees you.  (I am not talking about what others say, what your church has said, what books say.  I am talking about what God specifically says and what you believe about it.)

All problems stem from the same cause: a problem with our relationship with God.  There may be layers to it, but healing is intrinsically tied to our relationship with God.

Before you think I am just one of many people come to preach at you and tell you something you have already heard or read, stick with me.  I am going to share with you some things that I have learned through the “school of life experience” and what God showed me in the midst of my own darkness.  (To read this in greater detail, feel free to read my blog: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.  Warning: it’s heavy reading.)

In Exodus 15:26, it says, “I am the LORD, who heals you.”  Julie Ackerman Link says in Our Daily Bread, “…no healing takes place apart from God.”

The reason why so many people are not being “healed” by God is because: they. are. trying. to. do. the. healing. in. their. own. strength.

You might ask, “What about all the prayers I have prayed, all the books I have read, all the sermons I have heard?  It’s not like I haven’t tried.”

Yes, YOU have tried.

When your “connection” to God is “broken” or “clogged,” it is impossible to rely on God’s strength to claim victory over whatever negative patterns (thoughts and/or actions) you have going on in your life.

Just praying a prayer, reading books, and listening to sermons does not guarantee or ensure that your relationship with God is where it needs to be.

Our relationship with God starts in the heart/soul — not in outward actions.  The outward actions will flow correctly out of a correct heart relationship.  (For greater detail on this, see my blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/being-or-doing.)

For me personally, my relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be, and I didn’t recognize this at first because I knew (in my head) all the right answers.

The root cause for me began when as a teen I had to face some hardships that I shouldn’t have had to face.  In the midst of those hardships, I began to believe that I had to protect myself.

This was the first and greatest lie Satan tries to get us all to believe.  It’s the lie, called self-preservation.

If Satan can disconnect us from God, he has succeeded in disconnecting us from our source of power, life, healing, peace, etc…

That’s what Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  They began to look to themselves to make the decisions for what was best for their lives, instead of to God.  Not only did they become disconnected from their source of life, but they got the opposite of what they “wanted.”  Instead of getting true “knowledge” of good and evil.  They got only their own deceived and twisted view of these things, that only had their own experiences, desires, and logic as its source of interpretation.

When we look to ourselves to interpret “knowledge” and “truth,” we are limited by the scope of our own experiences, desires, and logic. 

For me, I began to believe the lie that I had to protect myself, which meant I turned away from God and became, in essence, my own god.  I did a lot of the “right” things.  My heart was still wanting to do what was right, but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in it.  The problem that I hadn’t recognized was that I was trying to walk in God’s power, while still trying to walk in my own.  It doesn’t work.

When you are trying to do things in your own strength, self is still in control.  When self is in control, there isn’t room for God in your life — not fully.  This can be so confusing because you can still have self as your god and yet still be doing all the “right” things.

When self is in control, circumstances will have a way of revealing this and showing the inadequacy of our god (self).  Take tragedies: natural disasters, disease, deaths, financial ruin, etc…  That’s when people often will cry out to God.  They suddenly realize the inadequacy of their own god of self.

For me, it was the simple situation of not having enough strength and wisdom in myself to know how to deal with two other little people who had minds and wills of their own and so many needs.  I “tried” to look to God, but I had already begun to believe the lie that I was a failure, not good enough for my kids.

The truth is I wasn’t enough for my kids — not by myself, in my own limited resources of power, strength, and patience.

What I didn’t fully believe was that I did have enough Strength at my disposal — the power that comes from being “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I couldn’t believe the truth because I was not fully trusting God.  Remember, what you believe is revealed by what you live — not what you know.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp, it says:

“Our thoughts have the power to instigate and even inflame our feelings, but conversely, our feelings have the power to reveal what we really believe about a given situation or person.

… I am convinced that our feelings will always tell us the truth; not necessarily the truth about reality, but the truth about what we believe.”

In recent months, God revealed the specifics that led me to believe the lie that I had to protect myself.  Once I finally “saw” when I first believed the lie, I was able to then ask the Lord to forgive me for believing the lie that He wasn’t enough.  I also had to forgive a specific person.  Once I was able to do those two things, I was finally able to let the “little girl inside me” run to Abba (“Daddy”, God).  When I did that, my heart finally came “home.”  My relationship with God was healed, and I was able to completely rest in Him.

It was at that time, I felt complete Shalom (true peace that comes from a well-being of soul).

Having my connection to God healed has meant I have been able to be receptive and responsive to His voice and am able to rely on His power.  I will catch myself beginning out of habit to repeat old patterns, but God quickly reminds me of the truth.  I am able to adjust my thinking and beliefs to accept the truth and to reject the lies.  This means keeping a very close connection with God. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says, “At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.”

In a future blog post, I want to address this very important question, “Where was God when such and such happened?”  This may be the key to helping individuals (you) finally be able to trust God.  So often we don’t ask this question because we are afraid…

I asked that question recently, listened, and was finally able to hear the answer.  I was a blubbering mess, following what God showed me.

I didn’t ask this question or receive the answer until the following three things happened:

  • I first acknowledged the lie I had believed: that God wasn’t good enough.
  • I then “allowed” God to replace it with the truth: that He is my Provider, Protector, Healer, Truth, and Life.
  • I then chose to surrender my heart to God — before knowing the answers to the question I would later pose to Him.

I recently read in a book, and I can’t remember which one because I have been reading so many lately, that freedom and healing isn’t the absence of something but the presence of Someone.  Finding freedom from fear isn’t just ignoring the thing you are afraid of or distracting yourself from the fear.  Finding freedom is actually replacing it with the true thing itself: Shalom (well-being of soul). 

True peace isn’t reliant on our external surroundings: music, scents, colors, physical positions.  True peace comes from our spirits being aligned with God’s Spirit, which in turns heals our souls (mind, will, emotions), which in turn manifests itself in our physical bodies.  True peace can happen no matter where we are, what we are doing, what is happening around us.  True peace isn’t physically-related; it’s spiritually-related.

True peace doesn’t come from emptying our minds of fear.  It comes from the Presence of Peace Himself.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the question, “Where was God?”  Until then, may you begin to ask the question, “When did I first begin to believe the lie of self-preservation?”