Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Fear of Man

The Fear of Man....

So being afraid that some guy will sneak into your house with a gun and jump out from behind a door... right? That's what I thought of as I looked at the bulletin in my hand on Sunday morning. Well this will be interesting! We sang the last song of our worship time and sat down. Pastor Steve stood up and started talking about fearing right, the title of our latest sermon series. My mind was,unfortunately, wondering. I was still trying to figure out what this sermon would be about exactly and (so ashamed) wondering what we would do for dinner that night. My ears perked up as Steve said "Twelve ways you can tell if you're struggling with the fear of men." "Oh goody!" I thought as I grabbed my pen, poised to write down a list (I LOVE lists :))

Number One: You are easily swayed by others.... well ok yes I don't hold onto my opinions for very long with anyone outside of my family. But that's just because I don't want to offend anyone!

Number two: You are over committed. At first I thought I definitely don't struggle with that. I can be very selfish with my time. But the more I thought about it I am very over committed when it comes to close friends and family. I'll do anything for them even if it messes up other plans.. I still don't think this is a huge issue for me though?

Number Three: You feel like you "need" things from people.  "Jay I just need you to do this so that I feel important!" "If she would just talk to me and start the conversation then I could do this and I'd feel like she wasn't so mad at me...." Yes this is the big one for me. I constantly feel like I need something from others in order to feel important or to feel like every thing's ok. 

Number Four: Self esteem is critical to you. I have LOW self esteem most of the time. And I focus on it so much! It's to the point of where praying about it has just become one more way to obsess over it. I never truly hand it over to God.

Number Five: You feel as if you might be exposed as an impostor... lets face it I'm really not as smart and social as I like to act.

Number Six: You always second guess yourself because of what other might think. SO TRUE or maybe it's not? I don't want to come across as stupid... what do you think?

Number Seven: You get embarrassed easily. Unfortunately my face doesn't help me pretend I'm not embarrassed... Red as a beet comes to mind.

Number Eight: You tell "white lies" often. Well not very often... ok a lot.

Number Nine: You diet to impress others. Ok I really don't think I struggle with this one. Usually I do that kind of stuff for myself.

Number Ten: You Avoid People. Um yes.

Number Eleven: People often make you angry or depressed. I think this goes along with low self esteem. Either way I struggle with this big time!

Number Twelve: You compare yourself to others to make yourself feel good. Guilty.

As I finished writing the list down I put my pen down and looked over my notes. Oh my word am I messed up! It makes so much sense that all of these things go together and that they are because I am afraid of men and what they may think of me! Pastor Steve went on to read from Jeremiah 17:5-10. It talks about how a man that relys on men is like a shrub living in the desert, no fruit and withering away to nothing. But he who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted by the stream. It can take on draughts and extreme heat because it is deeply rooted in the spring of life. I fell in love with this passage and even had plans to put it to paint. The passage goes on to say that we can not trust our own hearts but we can only put our faith in a never changing, ever faithful God. Again I loved this passage because I have been noticing lately  that my feelings tend to contradict one another and I never know what I truly want etc. How can I trust myself or any other man if we have no clue?

As the service ended I found that my heart was heavy and I couldn't help but think "But I didn't get a list on how to fix these things! There wasn't a step one, step two type deal! I'm not fixed!" And then it hit me. This is one of those things that is solely reliant on Faith. There is not step by step plan on how to stop fearing man.. at least not truly and forever. This is something I HAVE to rely on God for and trust in Him to change in me. It's exciting... yet terrifying for this List loving control freak. (Notice how I capitalized list as though it was someone of importance ;) ) I am so thankful for this sermon and for finally understanding what is holding me back from so much... the fear of men.

Jesus, I thank you for the opportunity to go to church and be fed your word and to be able to apply it in my life! I thank you that you do not leave us with out Hope. You are our Hope! I am not destined to stay this way. You are slowly chipping away at me and changing me little by little. I thank you Precious Savior! Thank you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Painfully honest

He had tattoos up and down his arm, his hair was buzzed on the sides and a six inch Mohawk spiked up from the center. He wore a wife beater and jeans (which I'm sure had holes in them) and he played the drums. I watched as he went crazy, jumping up and down as hit the cymbals. I half expected him to keel over from all the exertion.

And this was at a Christian concert.

I like to think of myself as open minded. I had come a long way from thinking that drums and guitars in church were a big no no. I went from thinking they were all a show to- God gives different people different talents and those people are using their talents to glorify God. What's wrong with that? The more I grew spiritually, the more I accepted things that were different but not sinful... or so I thought. As I watched the bands perform at winter jam last night, I couldn't help but think "Are these guys for real? Do they really believe in God and want to glorify Him or are they just putting on a show?" It was so hard not to judge them.

In between bands I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "I really wish Christian artists would try to look less like the world! They're making me stumble because I'm judging them! And don't they know the world is watching them and thinking "right, you're a Christian! You look just like me, how are you any different?"" My husband looked at me and said "You look like the rest of the world." My pride reared its head and I answered, "Well ya but in a good way. I don't look like a sinner. If I dressed in mini skirts and low cut tops people wouldn't believe I was a Christian.. or at least they'd assume we were all hypocrites!" Again he looked at me and said very kindly, "Is how they're dressed a sin? It's not the same thing as if you dressed immodestly because that is a sin."  In my heart I knew that having tattoos and looking like a punk wasn't a sin. But aren't they putting off an image that makes them look like their heart is in the wrong place? When you see someone dressed like that, don't you automatically assume they're into drinking and partying or stealing?

I watched as another band took the stage. In this band the guys had long hair and the bass player was hopping around and going crazy. He looked like he could have been playing for Aerosmith or any other secular rock band. I shook my head and the inner war in my heart raged on. "Could these people truly be Christians? Their lyrics are all pointing to God, and they were deep lyrics not fluff. But look at them up there! I just wish they'd look more like me so then I could take them more seriously!"

Again I turned to my husband and told him what I was thinking. I went off on a tangent on how people were probably questioning whether they were true believers or not. Jason said, "Ya, and I'm sure more than half of those people questioning it are Christians. If they live a life that's totally different from what their appearance is saying then the world will see the difference. It's the heart that matters. If they're not sinning by looking that way then why do we care?" Everything within me rebelled against what he was saying. I had to be right! There was no way a Christian should be dressed like that. I continued to mull this over as the concert wore on. I enjoyed the praise songs they sang and the lyrics were beautiful and soul deep. But they were still jumping around and having way too much fun in my opinion.

Suddenly an interesting thought hit me, "this is what heaven will be like... only better because we will not be questioning where that persons heart is based on how they're dressed or if they're standing still with arms raised or going wild."

I noticed my thought didn't say "because they wont be dressed this way or acting that way." It was all based on where my heart will be. I wont be questioning. Why was I questioning now? Simply because they didn't look like goody goodies? I didn't know their life style. I didn't know their story. Maybe their personality is just a rockster but instead of using that for evil they turned it into something beautiful and chose to use it to glorify God. They weren't sinning, so why am I so caught up in appearances?

Later in the evening they took an offering and had people standing at the end of each row to collect the buckets of money. The lady at my end was wearing a faded stripped t-shirt and shorts. Her hair was flat and in between wavy and straight. She wore no make up and honestly looked cheap. I looked at her and thought, "Really? You came to help out at a concert and that's how you dress? You look so trashy! You don't look like a Christian. I hope you truly find God." (Oh my word I am SO ashamed to admit to that!) The thought stunned me. Did I really just think that? Did I really just judge some one's faith simply because they weren't dressed super cute or didn't try to do their hair cuter? Did I really just assume she couldn't be a true Christian because she wasn't dressed like me? This time I didn't turn to my husband. This time I didn't admit to the thoughts running through my head. I already knew what he'd say, "what do looks have to do with it? If they're not sinning what's wrong?" But shouldn't we be trying to look our best so that people see us and think "Wow they have it all together, how do I get that?" Oh my word, how ridiculous! I seriously thought this people! Because as it says in the bible, "Dress the best you can so that others may see your faith..." um ok it doesn't say that. In fact the bible talks about dressing modestly and not focusing so much on how you look on the outside..that's it. The Bible talks WAY more about what is on the inside and where you heart is. Yes your outside should reflect what's on the inside. You attitude and actions are important. But how you dress is not important.

I wish I could say I completely changed last night. But like it is with everything this change will be slow and real. I am not a better Christian because I dress nice and clean. I am not a better Christian because I stand sweetly with my hand held up when praising God instead of jumping around and going nuts. If God had a tally board I'm sure those people would actually be doing better than me. They're not afraid to be themselves and put God on the spot light despite who they are. Thankfully God doesn't compare us and our salvation isn't based on how well you're doing compared to tattoo boy over there ;)

I've been learning a lot about myself in the last week. God has been chipping away at me and showing me sins and things in my life that I am so ashamed to admit to. But I'm glad He is showing me, and I am blessed that He is saying "Hey, you struggle with this... a lot! Lets fix that." He is setting me free from my chains and helping me to rely on Him in everything. I am so blessed!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I see the army closing in, rushing towards me with their weapons drawn. I stand my ground knowing that my help in on the way. He will not abandon me or leave me hanging!

Suddenly the winds pick up and in a rush of heat He is standing next to me. I look up into His eyes and I see the power and authority that they hold. I will not fear for His promises are true! He has and always will come through!

The warriors continue to get closer, I can see the anger and hatred on their face. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from Him. I grab His hand as they draw near. A sudden burst of strength flows from His hand to mine. Though He has not whisked me away from the chaos and terror that is headed my way, He has offered me His hand and His promise to stay by my side.

The Army is upon us, their weapons slice the air searching for a way to harm me. I lift my eyes up and look to Him for direction. Our eyes lock and He holds mine as the army rushes past us. I do not even notice the sharp swords only inches from my body for my eyes are fixed on Him and He has given me the spirit of strength, not fear.

Our hands go up in victory as our enemies are demolished by His shear Will. My God came through! He did not delay! He was right by my side! He held my hand and saw me through the toughest time.

Oh, My God, He will not Delay!  My refuge and strength always, ALWAYS!

Monday, March 5, 2012

I stood, hunched over by the weight of my sin and pain, watching as He walked down the street. He was coming closer, walking slower with each step. As He moved along the line of spectators each one suddenly stood and stretched, no longer held down by their misdeeds and guilt. Each one that stood gasped as though they could hardly believe their sins were lifted. As each person stood up straighter, He slumped forward further as though the cross on His back got heavier with each step.

He drew nearer to me, He saw my failure and my shame. He couldn't possibly help me. I looked away, ashamed of all that I had done. I felt His stare. I could no longer keep my eyes away. As He approached He looked into my eyes, and in that instant I knew who He was, I knew What He was and what He was capable of. I felt the instant release of my burden. My back no longer carried the weight of my sinful self. I stood. I stretched. I watched as He took on my sin. His shoulders fell forward, His legs buckled slightly under the weight, but He moved on and looked into the eyes of the next lowly sinner.

What could I say? What could I do? He had done this for me! He took my chains away! What else was there to do than to offer my heart to Him? Completely.

I then followed Him, walking on salvation. I felt my spirit awakening along with a new spirit guiding me calling me to follow the one who had saved me. I was standing! And as I followed Him I watched as hundreds more stood. My life I now offer to declare His promise and to praise His name!

I once was held down by my sin and misery. But I will now stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in complete and utter awe of the one who saved us all! I will stand, my soul Lord to YOU surrendered. All I am is YOURS!

This is the scene that played in my head yesterday as we sang this song (  in church. I nearly cried as I thought of His eyes searching mine, as the weight of my sin transferred from me to Him. He not only died for us, He took on sin He who knew no sin. That is our God!