What Women Fear: A Faith that Transforms {Ch 9}

He had been the trailblazer.  Living in the desert, off  the land, locust and honey was his usual meals.  He accepted the call Isaiah had spoken about years before: “A voice of one calling in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”  John’s job was to “preach of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and to baptize new believers.”

So convinced was he that the Christ was coming that when people questioned whether he was the actual Christ, he humbly answered, “I am not worthy, but one is coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  John knew his place and knew that Christ was coming.  How confirming it must have been for Jesus to show up just then, walk into the water and ask to John to baptize him.

Yet, a few chapters later in the Gospels, John finds himself in prison.  I’m sure he’s wondering what is happening.  Perhaps he is wondering why he hasn’t been rescued by Jesus.  He ask a simple question.  “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Broken, in despair and wondering what is to become of him, John questions.  Are you the Christ, Jesus?  Cousin?  Are you the one?

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve wondered too, is this for real, is Jesus real?  And yet, just like Angie, I have witness God’s amazing grace in my life so clearly there is no denying it.  But I have had my moments of doubt.

Angie tells the story of Peter stepping out in faith to walk on water.  In the height of that event, he begins to question, “Is this real?”  Panic ensues, Peter calls out to his Lord as he begins to sink and Jesus reaches to rescue.

John, Peter and a host of others had their moments of doubts, but even though these people doubted, they knew, deep down,  Jesus was the Christ.

“Other people believing and telling their story is powerful, but it isn’t a substitute for experiencing it yourself.” Angie Smith

Each of our faith walk is evident that Christ is real.  Angie points out, not to be passive in our relationship with Jesus.  We live out our faith when we step out and believe, even though we can’t see.

 Basically, she is telling us to MOVE.  This is huge for me because my fear, my big huge, audacious fear keeps me from moving.  I will question a thousand times, is this from you God?  Perhaps I should wait a little to see how this pans out.  I would like to say I’m the type of person who would leap out of the boat and run to Jesus on water.  Truth be told, I’d stick so close to that boat, waiting for one more confirmation it was him.  Perhaps missing a God moment all together.

Here’s what happens when we don’t move.  We miss out.  We miss opportunities.  We miss seeing God.  If we move, step out in faith, well that is what  Angie points out as,

“This my friends is walking in a faith that transforms.”

If our fear keeps us from experiencing God, we miss his amazing blessings.  Friends, there is no fear here.  God’s promises are true, we need only to go to the scriptures to see them.  The more we read, the more we understand God’s amazing plan for each of us.  Will it include success? An easy life?  Perhaps.  But there is a greater chance it will not.  In fact, scripture says we will have troubles.  But isn’t it then, when we don’t succeed, when life isn’t easy that we reach out to God and he holds us?  Rescues us?  Our faith is strengthened in those moments.  That is transformational faith.

Jesus sends people back to John to tell him; “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Jesus is telling John, oh yes, John, I am he.  God’s plan is real.  No need to fear……

<a href=”http://  “>What Women Fear

What Women Fear: A Faith that Transforms {Ch 5 & 6 part 2}

He sat on the floor pictures surrounding him.  Pictures of his youth, of family picnics, and family vacations.  The people in these pictures looked like a family that loved each other, that were….happy.   Fun times.  Where did it go?  What went wrong?  How could I have messed things up so badly, he wondered, and how do I go back and change it.

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Have you ever felt that way before?  That you have gotten yourself so far in you can’t imagine ever turning things around?

We’ve all made mistakes and if we are Christ followers we have laid those mistakes at the foot of the cross.  The beauty of being a Christ follower is those mistakes, those sins are forgiven.  So why do we feel it’s not enough just to confess them.  Why do we feel like we need to earn our way to heaven?

The gospel of grace is so simple that its hard to believe ~ Angie Smith

And yet, its grace, that beautiful gift, is all that is needed.  We just need to accept it.  After that, there’s one thing we need to do (here’s the hard part) let it go!  

He can be glorified in spite of our mistakes ~ Angie Smith

You see, God’s love has been around from the beginning.  Before you were born, before you knew what sin was, while you were sinning and afterwards.  God’s love has not changed.  If we accepted His forgiveness and allow his arms of mercy and grace to hold us, we change.

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Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. Romans 12:2 (CEV) 

 The Christian group Big Daddy Weave had an award-winning song this past year called “Redeemed”  Part of the words to this song are “All my life I have been called unworthy.  Named by the voice of my shame and regret.  But when I hear you whisper, Child lift up your head, I remember you are not done with me yet. Shake off these heavy chains, wipe away every stain. Cuz I’m not who I use to be.  I am redeemed.  You set me free.”

There is freedom in confessing our sins, more importantly, there is freedom in accepting His mercy and grace.  We don’t have to bear our past sins to everyone, but God will use our experiences for His good.  If we hide behind the shame of our past we miss opportunities for God to use us for His glory.

<a href="http:// “>What Women Fear

What Women Fear: Walking in a Faith that Transforms {Chapter 5 & 6} Pt 1

We are walking in faith of the One True God who wants us to cast our cares to Him.  
As a group of women we are reading “What Women Fear: Walking in a Faith that Transforms”  
We are stepping out in faith and turning over our fears to God.  This is a post on the fear of death.Image

I’ve seen a lot of loss in my life.  I lost my parents when I was a teenager and stood by as both my brother and sister lost their sons, all in separate incidents.  How does one cope with such loss?  I think its normal to fear death.  But each time I lost someone, I bottled up my fear and took care of others.  It’s what I do.  It’s my “go to” default behavior.  Try to control the situation.

Angie’s story of spending the night at her grandparents house resonated with me.  I’ve been there.  The watchful one, trying to make sure everyone was safe.  I assumed responsibility of keeping everyone safe.  It was all up to me.  Funny thing is, I don’t remember anyone asking me to do that.

Tragically, my nephew was shot when he was 16 years old.  As word got out in the community about my nephew,  others wondered how this could happen to a young promising high school football player, an only child,  gone from this life as we knew it.  Innocence was lost for these young high school kids.  Innocence was lost for me too.  This caused me to be on my guard, trying so hard to keep my own teenagers safe from the evils out there. I was tormented.

What developed in the weeks, months, actually years to come was a huge fear of death.  I wasn’t afraid to die, I was terrified something would happen to my kids.  This fear consumed me, enveloped me and I couldn’t see how I was slowly hurting the ones I was trying so hard to keep safe.

Angie states in her book “I think it’s natural for us to fear death – both our own and the death of those we love.  It is horrific reality that sin exists.  Satan delights in our sleepless nights and our doubts in God’s sovereignty.  We must continually turn it over to the Lord and surround ourselves with the people who urge us to trust His goodness.”

Here is where perspective comes in.  When we are deep into holding onto our fears, Satan will use that to further separate us from the truth.  God is good.  His eternal plan for us is far greater than we can even imagine.  So if joy awaits us, what is there to be afraid of?  It’s in those times our fears consume us that we need to lean into Him.  It is not an easy thing to let go of fear.  For me, I have had to cling to His Word.  This was and still is how I lean into God.

“He is the safe place I have spent so many days trying to create myself.”   Angie Smith

If I had spent my days leaning into Him as my safe haven perhaps I wouldn’t have created such a wedge in relationships I was trying so hard to hold onto.  Has your fear consumed you so much you are missing Him or His blessings?  Are you in control or is it controlling you?  There are no easy answers to this, no 4 step process to rid us of this fear.

Angie, begins her story talking about Jesus and the disciples in a storm.  So, where does our faith lie?  As Angie says, “Is it the structure of the boat?” Or is it believing the One who has called you to step out in faith in His plans.

This was one fear I painstakingly gave over to God.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I will tell you it can be done.  The burden of carrying around our fears is a heavy one.  I have found peace in giving this one over to God.  I still worry.  After all, I’m a mom, but I know that God is in control and I need to trust Him in all things.