Anxiety and Trust Can’t Coexist

When I was eight years old I remember laying in my bed at night and crying over all the possible things that could go wrong. I cried for every person I knew that smoked because what if they died of emphysema? I’d stay up worrying about if my baby brother would grow up to like me, and I’d fret about mosquitos giving me AIDS (no joke, I was terrified!). I was never a risk taker in my teen years, too many things could go wrong. My biggest risky behavior was to drive a tad over the speed limit… and I got busted for it WAY too many times!

Fast forward to becoming a mother, and this anxiety hits in the deepest depths of my mind. I’ll never forget that moment that I first had the overwhelmingly panicky, fearful moment. My oldest child (only child at the time) was only about 7mo old and we were driving along Mammoth Mountain in California. The snow had piled so high along the sides of the road that the road was narrow and the cliff was right there! It was beautiful… to some… to me it was our death trap! The higher we drove on the mountain, the more I glanced back at my baby, and the more scared I became until finally I blurted out, “TAKE ME HOME!!! I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE, NOW!” I shocked my husband and myself.

I do not have anxiety at a clinical level. But I have moments of complete fear, to the point of tears, and I begin to lose sleep over all of the what ifs. Last night was one of those nights. In about 3 weeks we’re returning to one of my kids’ favorite places, and one of my biggest fears. Wisconsin Dells. You see, for people like me, large crowds and 4 kids spark anxiety. Swimming pools spark anxiety. Add those things together and you’ve got it, I’m up at night with anxiety filled dreams, and a list of what ifs a mile long.

But, this isn’t our first time to Wisconsin Dells’ crowd filled, death traps upon death traps of water slides and pools (sorry… ), and it most likely won’t be my last. I made a decision a long time ago, as I’ve been dealing with this for 13 years now, not to allow this issue of mine to rob me of the wonderful fun my family has. It isn’t easy. My dreams are vivid, life-like, and scare me to the point of tears almost every single night leading up to this trip… but they won’t overcome me.

Anxiety and trust cannot coexist. If I want to honor God by trusting him with the things most valuable to me, my kids, I have to take captive every single anxious thought. Trusting God is not as easy as typing that out. It takes practice, discipline, and constant attention to the destructive thoughts that come in order to push anxiety like mine aside and choose to trust God.

Many people do not like this idea. They don’t believe they have control over the thoughts that come in their minds. They take the motto of “It’s too hard” instead of “Be anxious for nothing”. And to be honest, it offends them to read something like what I am typing. When we struggle to overcome something, the last thing we want to hear is that our trust in God is wavering. But there is the truth, and that’s what we have to look at. Anxiety and Trust cannot coexist. And in the midst of a late night battle with anxiety I have to make the choice to either dwell there, give into the thoughts, and feed the anxiety or to trust God to care for and protect my mind, and ultimately me and my children.

“But it’s so hard! The thoughts are so strong, and constant. HOW can I possibly drive them out!?”

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5

So, First, read the Word of God and BELIEVE it when it says “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-8 MSG)

You have to replace the anxious thoughts with God trusting thoughts. Believe me there may be days where this is ALL you do in your mind. It’s gruelling, but SO worth it. In the NLT it says, ” Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Part of this process is to remember ways God has protected you, cared for you, and met your needs.

When my 2nd daughter was born I had a hard time laying her in her bed and leaving the room for the night. I was going through a really rough time, we had moved from CA to WI and had no jobs to support us. I was having some trust issues with God and one night when I simply could not pull myself away from her bedside I sat on the floor and cried. I said, “God! How can I trust you when we have no car, we have no jobs, and now two kids, what are you doing here!?” and right there on the floor of my infants room I hashed it out with God. He won of course reminding me of every time he’s met my needs. He reminded me that when I don’t trust, I pull away. And when I pull away, I put an unsafe distance between me and God. God never moved, but I took steps away. And once I began to thank Him for all He’s done, that peace surrounded me and I could trust my daughter in His hands.

I prayed that if something truly warranted my attention that I’d know the difference between anxiety and a call to action. That has proven itself many times over now and I know the difference in the feelings.

After two miscarriages and finally a very difficult pregnancy and an even more difficult birth of our 3rd child,  I found out I was pregnant with my 4th. Fear began to creep in. And I chose to not live in fear. So I took this verse in Philippians and put it to practice. Every fear that came up, every what if that tried to steal my joy, I turned into prayer. For example: When I did not feel sick one morning after having severe morning sickness the day before, instead of freaking out because my experience told me that meant miscarriage, I prayed, “I’m so thankful that I feel so good today, Lord. Thank you for the reprieve, but I’m scared. I’m scared that this is a sign of miscarriage, please take care of my baby. I give this baby to you for you hold his future in your hands. I TRUST you and will choose to trust instead of fret.” I did this many times a day. My delivery was so horrible with baby #3 and I’d fret the delivery of # 4 almost every day of the pregnancy, but I turned them into prayer EVERY.SINGLE.TIME until that peace came over me… and that delivery was the easiest of all 4. It was so good!

So I think of those times and I remind myself that God has taken care of our family from the very beginning and he will not stop now. When I wake up at 4am riddled with dream after dream of my children drowning or getting lost, or kidnapped while at the Dells, I get myself up and pray myself through immediately, even if that means missed sleep tonight… tomorrow will be better.

I also pray the scriptures. I believe the Word of God is true. And so I pull out a few scriptures and I pray out loud the TRUTH over my fear. I put my kids’ names in the spots where it makes sense…

Lord, I look up to the mountains—
For my help comes from there. 
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
 
He will not let My children stumble;
the one who watches over them will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over my children
never slumbers or sleeps.
 
The Lord himself watches over them!
The Lord stands beside them as their protective shade.
 sun will not harm my children by day,
nor the moon at night.
 
The Lord keeps them from all harm
and watches over their lives.
The Lord keeps watch over them as they come and go,
both now and forever. (Psalm 121, bold print = changes)
I fill my mind with prayers of trust until there is no room left for thoughts of anxiety. And to be honest, this took me 90 or so minutes last night. It’s NOT easy… but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
God is a sympathetic God. None of us are perfect, and we’re all given our own set of struggles to overcome. God does not leave us to do this alone! He’ll walk each step with is.
For some anxiety isn’t an issue, for others, it can be a cancer. And just like cancer treatments can be aggressive, so must our course of action to overcome fear and anxiety. For some it’s not the safety of their children, but their checkbook, they fear and fret every time it’s time to pay the bills. They lose sleep over how they will put food on the table. For others it may be the drive to be perfect in all they do. They fear making mistakes and they live in this constant pull between the impossibility to be perfect, and their anxiety over beating that impossibility. Although the symptoms are different, the cancer is the same… and the treatment will always be to CHOOSE to be anxious about nothing and pray about it all.
I suspect this won’t be my only night where I have nightmares. I have 3 weeks before we have the time of our lives at the Waterpark Capital of the World. And I’ll need to up my prayer time each day we are there, but I’m committed to choose peace and trust. It’s what the Word says to do.
Below are a FEW scriptures you can turn to prayer as you choose to overcome your anxiety. I got this set from a bible.com (youversion App) reading plan called, “Praying through the Scriptures: Anxiety” I keep this plan on my phone at all times so if I’m struggling I know where I can find some good solid scriptural prayers. I know there’s more out there, feel free to share them in a comment!
I’m praying for YOU, too. Anxiety can be debilitating. Don’t dwell in it (it’ll grow!) instead, choose trust. And remember Trust and Anxiety cannot coexist.
  • Matthew 6:25-34
  • 1 Peter 5:7-11
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Proverbs 3:5-8
  • Psalm 46
  • 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

 

And if you think about me during the week of June 17th-20th, lift me up in prayer. I would never want to ruin this week of fun for my family because of my lack of trust. I have always enjoyed myself in years past, and I plan to do it again this time.

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For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation

 

How many of you know that the world and it’s moral compass is proof that Jesus is coming soon! We’re seeing a lot of scripture truly come to life and we need to heed the warning. Let’s take a look at  1 Timothy chapter 4

This chapter starts off with the warning from the Holy Spirit that some will turn away from the faith of Jesus Christ. Falling away comes in many different forms. One can give up completely, turn their backs on God, and profess atheism. One can begin to believe lies that the world tells them, and begin making up their own Jesus. So they no longer worship the TRUE Jesus, but a made up version, a false version… which is idolatry at it’s sneakiest. Or, one can continue coming to church, continue preaching to the world the true Jesus… but live in complete contrast to Him. They hold the truths in their hands and not their hearts. They say all the right words, but act not a one of them. Their conscience is dead, what once convicted them, no longer applies… to THEM, others, sure, but not THEM.

This is Satan coming to kill, steal, and destroy! His goal is to Kill our salvation, steal our purpose, and destroy our witness. And in the end times, we can’t afford for this to happen!


Timothy was a pastor, but this chapter wasn’t included in the Bible strictly for pastors. God wants our eyes to be open to be doing the work as well. Has anyone ever seen a baby bjorn. Has anyone seen THIS 

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This is how many Christians expect to live. Your pastor is NOT going to get in a man bjorn and follow you around. You can’t strike up a conversation with your grocery clerk and then turn your back and say, “Now my Pastor will invite you to church!” You can’t pack your Pastor up for every family gathering and let him do the witnessing for you. He can’t live YOUR life and influence YOUR circle. As much as most Pastors LOVE bbq, they can’t be at each one of your houses talking to your neighbors while you grill! YOU must step up, you MUST start inviting people to church, or the Church (capital C) will die. You MUST tell others about the AMAZING, AWESOME, LIFE CHANGING SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! I can not emphasize this enough! This is not optional.

But here’s the good news. God never reveals a problem that is too big for Him to solve. And right here in this chapter (and really all throughout the Bible), he gives us the HOW. How do we tells others, enhance our witness, and become effective Christians?

One… You must be anchored in God’s word. Paul says To be Nourished by the message.  The Bible is truth. It is 100% solid. It will give you ALL you need. Arguing over whose faith is right, or fighting against false teachings in a unloving way is never needed. Don’t waste your time. Instead, as verse 7 says, “train yourself to be godly.” Turning your focus on yourself, and your own relationship will win others to Christ WAY faster than pointing out all their wrongs. The healthier you are, the healthier example you set for the neighbors/community around you.

Secondly,  you must train for godliness.  Yes. Exercising is important. Building muscles keeps us going in life. The stronger your muscles, the better your endurance, metabolism, and even mental health are.  There’s no argument that it’s very important. However, the Bible doesn’t speak to a vigorous physical exercise regimen… but it is VERY clear that training for godliness is a must.

This word “godliness” in verse 8 means to have the character and attitude of God– We aren’t made in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were made in the image of God! So, is that true in your life? Do your neighbors, your co-workers, your family see the image of God in you?

I definitely don’t have the image of a beauty queen– but I pray that in every encounter the image of God shines more beautifully to others than any tiara I could ever wear upon my head! I pray that the way I treat my husband, the way I handle telemarketers, the way I negotiate internet rates… I even pray the way I discipline my children is proof that I was made in the image of God. It won’t’ mean I won’t mess up… but it is my duty to pursue, and train myself to live in such a manner. Bodily exercise is good… for awhile, but it won’t affect eternity. It won’t go into all the world and preach the good news… but our godliness will.

It is NOT easy, and Paul does not hide that it will hard. But he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we work hard and continue to struggle through this training because  Our hope is in the LIVING GOD. David challenged Goliath in the name of the LIVING GOD… and guys… he slayed the giant! When we choose the godly life, we, too can slay our giants.  We can tell the rage that lives deep down, “You come at me with frustrations and stress but I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can tell your insecurities… “You come at me with shyness and self loathing… I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can stand there in front of your giant, whatever weapons he may bear and you can remind him that you have THE.LIVING.GOD and HE is the only weapon you’ll EVER need!

We have power! And it’s a SIN to keep it to ourselves!

We must teach these things and insist that others learn it.  I am NOT saying you beat someone over the head with your Bible, follow around after them chanting “GET SAVED OR BURN” rhetoric. You know, kids don’t learn sometimes on the first time… and sometimes not the 2nd time… and sometimes not the 3rd… or 4th… or 5th time… but we never just walk away and let them ignore the thing they HAVE to learn. Instead you continue to guide, and teach, and speak, and work it into daily life. And if we’re doing it right… we’re not doing this through beating them. Haha. So, we don’t beat people over the head, but we don’t neglect teaching them either. Teaching is more than just preaching, too, by the way.  We show them with our lives, we point them towards Jesus in how we talk to them. We pray for our neighbors and not gossip about them. We seek God’s direction, and we invite grocery clerks to Church. Or we pray with a grieving co-worker. We stand up for the weak, and live out our convictions, even when no one else agrees. You don’t HAVE to preach… but you do HAVE to witness!

There are NO excuses. Timothy was young– but was still called to be an example. So what is your excuse?
If you spoke them out, how ridiculous would they sound?
I did this. I stood at an alter where I felt God was wanting to use me, but I’d held back. And I said out loud my excuses… Are you like me as I stood there and said,
“I’m too fat to approach people and tell them about God.”
Ummm, yeah, where is THAT in scripture?
“I’m just too shy, I’ll stumble over myself if I try to witness.”
“God, I sin.” (Well, DUH!)
“I’m just too busy.”
When you HEAR yourself saying something so outlandish it should resonate with you that you’re just stalling. And you’re giving the enemy a footstool.

 We are called to point others to the saving Grace of Jesus fearlessly and let God do the rest! Paul told Timothy to “preach” through example– preach by the words you say but also HOW you say them–
Preach not just in how you live, but by how you enhance the lives of others.
Preach not by declaring that you go to Church, but instead SHOW them why you can’t stay away!

Preach in the way you live, in the way you love, in how deeply you live out your faith and how pure you are (vs 12). And do all of this by focusing on the scripture, encouraging and teaching others what the Word says.  

We mess up when it comes to the last few verses here… and it’s funny that verse 15 starts  Give your complete attention to these matters…

Timothy was given a gift– This refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy but it’s also the same word God used to speak of the gifts He gives US! We, as I’ve said before, are made in the image of God– We were given gifts and attributes to use to reflect Him… And yet we neglect them. We live in fear instead of peace. We live defeated instead of victory, we live insecure instead of the child of the God we were created to be! Where do we see the image of God fearful? Defeated? Insecure?

Timothy isn’t the only one that has been given supernatural gifts from God– the word was written TO US! FOR US! We should trust that God will do great things through us– and we must begin to flow with the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit. We must throw ourselves into this task so that everyone will see the progress as verse 15 says.  We need to  Give it our all. We can’t afford to live a passive Christian life. Other’s salvation is at stake.

People are staying away from church because they don’t see the point. The church going people they see are the same as the bar going people. They see anger outside… AND inside the church. They see a world full of hate, division, and pain… and unfortunately… so VERY unfortunately, they see it inside the church.
But maybe one of the most detrimental to the church is that lack of power they see when they look at the church. We’re so passive that they don’t see a reason to change.

Paul is speaking from experience here. No one could accuse Paul of living a passive Christian life.

 1 Corinthians 15:10 says But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  Paul knew spiritual growth didn’t just happen, we MUST actively pursue it.

We can have a saved soul– I mean, we’ll make it to heaven– but we can waste it in the process.

I mentioned at the beginning Satan’s goals for us. Kill, steal, and destroy… but what is God’s goal?
TO HAVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! A powerful, effective life!  All of this culminates in this last verse in 1 Timothy
Why does all of this matter? Your salvation is at risk… but also

For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation, you MUST take your faith outside the church walls and into your own sphere of influence.

If you are saved, and you’ve made that choice, the angels in heaven rejoice because of it, but… for the sake of the neighbor’s salvation you can NOT stop there. Your world needs salvation, too. Your living, your teaching, your witness saves people.
Satan knows that many solid Christians are pretty solid in their faith. He has probably figured out by now that he won’t get some of you to denounce Christ. So he shifts his purpose and works diligently to make you ineffective. If he can get you to look just like the world, he’ll ruin your witness… and he’ll win.
If he can get you to doubt yourself, and keep you living in fear, never stepping out to speak to your family about Jesus… he wins.

We, too easily, disqualify ourselves. We fail to believe the promises written right there in HIs word– and we play right into Satan’s plan for our ineffective lives. And for the sake of our neighbor’s salvation we CAN NOT let that happen! We aren’t going to be perfect… but we ARE going to make a difference.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church. It’s the day the believers of Jesus went to an upper room and they waited for the promised holy spirit to arrive. In order to take the church out of the building, and into the community, we need the outpouring of the holy spirit. I’ve spoken a lot of MUSTS… and as much as I don’t want to sound so bossy and demanding, I’ve felt SO strongly that it is TIME. The Church needs to be a light into the community, and it can’t be just your pastor’s responsibility. They can’t be strapped to each one of you… You don’t need them (although they ARE important parts of God’s plan here).  You NEED Jesus! You NEED His power, His influence, His witness. But you can no longer keep it to yourself. If you are unwilling to take Jesus outside of  your own personal walls, you’re neighbors are going to die, and they WILL go to hell. I don’t know another nicer way to put it. The truth is, it’s time to leave your pews and trust God for the power to take the message out.

May I challenge you? Make a commitment to 1 Timothy 4. To live a godly life as an open witness… for the sake of your salvation… and the salvation of those who hear you!

This Monday devotion was brought to you by yesterday’s Sermon at Crossroads Church. If you’d like to hear more, learn more, or clarify more, please visit our Facebook page, give us a call (507-375-5920. Leave a message if you need to) or come to our Sunday Services every Sunday at 10am. 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN. I’ll save you a seat!

Christians, Have You Been Sleeping?

Have you heard of the story of Jonah? You know the guy who was swallowed by a big fish and lived to tell the tale? It’s a great story of God’s provision even in the midst of… well, being in the stomach of a fish! But, even before his 3 days in the digestive track, he was in the pit of despair. Jonah was running from God. How is it that a prophet, someone who was chosen for such a grand task for God, could refuse to tell the people of Nineveh about the God he served?

Some of us are not too different from Jonah.

So here’s the beginning of the story in a nutshell… Jonah is told to go to Nineveh to tell them about God. Jonah HATES the idea, the people there are not jews, and Jonah is not too thrilled about telling them about HIS God. So he jumps on a boat sailing in the opposite direction. He finds a nice cozy place down in the hold of the ship and goes to sleep. Meanwhile there is a storm blowing. Violent winds were threatening to break the ship apart.

Now, how is it that Jonah could sleep so soundly? How is it that a man of God can be actively running, and yet so easily fall asleep… and even sleep through the violent storm shaking his boat?

Same way Christians today do the same thing. There are christians that are sleep walking. They are talking in their sleep, laughing and crying, and living… but their completely dead to the world around them.

Jonah maybe closed his eyes this time, but he’s been sleeping for a while. He turned his back on what God asked him to do, coming up with his own way for doing things. So when God didn’t do it HIS way, he high-tailed it out of there. He was dreaming if he thought God would ignore this.

Back to our story… While the storm is raging, the sailors are scared to death! They are trying every god they can think of. They are asking these gods to stop the storm… Their gods are fictitious. They don’t exist, they have no power. So of course they do not work. They are throwing cargo over, doing everything they can think of to keep from dying. All of them, crying out to gods who could do nothing, all while there was a man on board who had a relationship with the One True God… but was sleeping.

Christians!!! There is a storm in our world. Violent storms of sin, and pain, and hopelessness, and anxiety, and depression, and fear, and crime, and hate are threatening to break lives apart… and you’re lying there sleeping. You are the one who knows the redeemer, the hope-giver, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the peaceful One, the loving One… and you’re sleeping in the hold of the ship! Jonah slept while people fought for their lives… Christians! The world needs our message, and our testimony, it’s time to WAKE UP!!

The Captain of the ship finds Jonah and asks him to pray to his God, the ONE TRUE GOD. It’s their last-ditch effort, but they’re hanging on to a thread of hope. Jonah had the one who could deliver! We hold the truth, are we living it? The world may never come to us like the captain of this ship did.  If we lay around snoozing until they do, we’ll miss out. We won’t be apart of their journey, and their journey may end with the storm!

So, Jonah wakes up, the crew figure out that it’s Jonah’s fault that the sea is raging. They learn of his sin and since the storm was getting worse they desperately ask him what they should do now. I mean, come on, if the one person who claims to know God is causing the storm, what is there left to do!?

Christians, when we sleep through this life and pretend we’re fine… we are causing storms all around us. We are causing others to question our God. We are causing others to stumble as they try to stand upright through the torrential winds of life. How many times have we heard, “I don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there.” Although there are many flaws to that reasoning, it’s true that there are too many christians forgetting to live what they say they believe. They are  sleep walking. And they are a danger to the world around them.

Jonah decided he needed to be thrown into the sea. He knew God, he was just not living what he believed. He knew that God could fix it. Not just the storm, but HIM. He knew that the storm was his fault, and he acted in order to remedy the situation. It’s probable that Jonah repented at that moment. He woke up, and in order to save the people in his boat, he was willing to be thrown overboard.

It’s never too late to WAKE UP! There may be damage done, but you can make a difference in the lives around you. You can still decide not to ignore those hurting around you. Maybe you ignored the problem for years, and you’re too ashamed to admit that you’ve slept right through their issue. You can still throw yourself at the mercy of Jesus, and let Him wake you up.

HOW DO YOU WAKE UP!?

  1. Have a thorough consciousness of the reality of the world around you. Don’t turn a blind eye, pray for those lost in sin. Open your eyes to those hurting, and hopeless. Acknowledge that hate exists, and that people are falling into storms of anxiety and depression on a daily basis.
  2. Believe that the comforter CAN comfort those you see hurting in the world. And then ACT! Don’t be like Jonah and withhold the knowledge of God from a dying world.
  3. Serve God. Don’t stop because the storm is raging. It’s time to start living what we believe. When life is hard, when God asks more of us than we think we can do, serve God.  When trials come, Serve God. When things don’t work out the way you intend, serve God. You’re the Christian! You know the power of God, so don’t just believe it… ACT!

Jonah was thrown into the sea. And the sea suddenly fell calm. Jonah splashing into the sea showed the sailors that his faith was backed with actions. He was no longer one of those people who claim Jesus as Lord, and yet act no differently than people who have no god at all. When they saw this, they were amazed, and began serving God, too.

Our greatest evangelistic tool is not to blend in and sleep our way through the Christian life. It’s to wake up and  live a REAL Christian life. We must notice the need of Jesus in the World around us,  show them that we believe in the Jesus we claim as God, and we need to serve Him wholeheartedly. Show, with our lives, that Jesus is REAL. WAKE UP, Live bold, and awaken those around you!

Christians, we can’t sleep through this. We must “Go into all the World…” And if they catch us sleeping, we can lose them. Don’t worry, He promises to be with us always…

We, are not alone. Although Jesus IS enough, He isn’t asking us to do it alone. Find some good Christian friends who are AWAKE, and serving well. Surround yourself with the fellowship of other believers. And, let’s keep each other out of the belly of a whale!

A Full Length Mirror

I recently stayed in a hotel room (to ride out an April Blizzard, if you can believe that!) and within the room was not only a full length mirror right where you’d normally get dressed, but also a very BRIGHT mirror. There’s nothing worse than being confronted with a very bright full length mirror…. while getting dressed. Talk about emphasizing every small (and not so small) part of your body! Putting makeup on was puzzling. Do I need more, or is this lighting deceiving and I’ll really leave the room with so much makeup caked on that I’ll look like a clown? Did I really think I looked good in this outfit? OY VEY!

I know my body isn’t perfect, I’m actually quite sure it’s far from it. I know that my face has some flaws and could benefit from some light makeup… but nothing prepares me for that up-close spotlight on all my flaws. I found myself dressing in the far corner of the room, and standing several feet away as I applied my makeup for the day. And I wouldn’t say I have a crippling self-esteem… it’s just a bit too much reflection for my taste!

Have you ever said those things while reading the Word? Have you ever felt a tad too revealed after listening to a convicting sermon? Have you ever felt completely exposed when confronted with your sin? If so, GOOD!!! That’s GREAT! It’s exactly what’s needed! If not, it’s time!

You see, I know I have some a lot of weight to lose. But if I don’t look, I can just put on my big clothes, sit around and not really have to face the fact that I’m overweight and need to change. But, MAN ALIVE when confronted with that full length mirror, I’m back on the healthier lifestyle bandwagon! If we don’t look at our spiritual life, we can just keep on going to church, reading our Bible reading plans and checking off the boxes, and yet we never truly grow much closer to Jesus in the process.

It’s important for our physical walk through losing weight if we weigh ourselves, look at our transformations, and SEE the change. The first few pounds are the hardest. But when we start to see our jeans a tad more loose, and our faces thin out, we’re more motivated. But how do we measure spiritual maturity? We look into that full length mirror that’s lit up on all sides! We pay attention to where God is shining the light and start to fine tune them.

Nancy Demoss Walgemuth says God creates circumstances in order to show us our great need for Him, and His work in us. She preached at a conference in 2016, and gave the example of a mother who never knew she was an angry person until her 2-year-old painted the living room furniture with butter. At that moment God gave that mother a circumstance to show her what was truly inside her… A full length mirror!

My kids can walk around all afternoon with jelly from their PB&J at lunch all over their face. They don’t care because they don’t know. I mean, they know they didn’t wipe their face with each bite, and that at some point they did feel the wet goop touch their face. But their focus was on other things and so they got used to it. It isn’t until I tell them to go look in the mirror do they fully grasp how crazy they look with a Joker-like grin of Jelly plastered across their face.
Unfortunately sin isn’t as cute. We know the issues has crept in, but we get side tracked and we don’t confront it any longer. It finds its way into our lives and makes itself comfortable. And before long we’re not just angry at our kids, we’re snapping at our spouse, our neighbor, our co-worker… our God. And we know it’s there, but as long as we stay in the dark corner, we won’t have to face the full length mirror, and we can skip having the light shone on what we’ve worked so hard to hide in the dark.

Maybe its not anger. Maybe it’s pride, or a critical spirit. Maybe it’s complacency, or a life of a busybody. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s not pleasing to God, it needs to go. And God wants it gone. But we have to be willing to let Him shine the light on us to expose those deep places. We can not hold back.

I’m not an expert in the field by any means, but I’m walking through it. I’m daily asking God to create in me a clean heart and to make my spirit right with Him. And in order to do that, I have to be willing to give up any and all things that hinder that clean heart and right spirit. I have to pray these scriptures…

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ” Psalm 139:23,24

“Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” Psalm 26:2 (NLT)

But, beware… When you pray them, if you’re honest and truly are inviting God to turn on the bright lights, you need to be prepared to deal with what He shows you. Pushing it away will not get rid of it. Working through it will.

  1. Listen to sermons that won’t just tickle your ear. Find ones that will point-blank heap on conviction. I’m not talking about preacher who preach fire and brimstone… I’m talking about sermons that cut straight to the point and confront the tough issues. Ones that you hear and audibly say, “OUCH!”. Then begin praying through what hit the nerve.
  2. Tell a close friend so they can hold you accountable. Don’t pick your critical friend. You don’t need criticism. You need accountability. Tell your friend, “Please stop me if I begin to gossip to you.” or “I’m dealing with some pride in my life, if I start putting others down so I can puff myself up, will you please remind me of my goal to stay humble.” **If you’re the friend who has been asked, be loving, pray for the proper time to speak up, and don’t hesitate to call them out, they need it.
  3. Search God’s Word. Look for scriptures that speak to the sin you’re trying to conquer. Put those scriptures on notecards and put the notecards around your house. Put them inside cabinets you open frequently. Put them in your purse. Make a screen saver that will pop up every time you open your phone. Here’s mine…30874629_10156426241409430_1675829259_n
  4. PRAY! Nothing will get you through this gut wrenching fully lit, full length mirror like prayer will. Pray daily that God will point out every bit of what He wants removed. Pray that your eyes will be open to seeing it in yourself. Pray that you’ll be swift in dealing with it. Pray that sermons will penetrate your heart, that your heart will be open to a friend holding you accountable, and that scriptures would be so real to you that you begin to actually live them.

Please do not hear me saying that you should be down on yourself, that you should heap condemnation on yourself, or that you should feel you are anything less than the amazing person Christ died for. No, instead I’m telling you that there’s amazing freedom in knowing that God is fine tuning you, shining a light on all the parts that do not come into obedience to Him. When God does this it is so that He can USE you. He wants you to be a vessel He can work through. And what an honor and a blessing to draw close to Him and experience the power He has as he speaks to others through you, helps others through you, and changes lives through you. The greatest thing is that he doesn’t NEED us. But he uses us anyway. So, it must be for OUR benefit. And as I stand daily in front of that mirror, I’m noticing more and more the joy I have. I know I haven’t conquered it all, I probably never will. I’m flawed, and beautifully imperfect… but I strive not to stay there.

So, take a deep breath, and step in front of this full length mirror with me! It may not be beautiful at first glance… but believe me God sees something amazing…

Let’s turn the lights up!

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Psalm 51: 10-12

 

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Crossroads Church in St. James, Minnesota has the desire to make it easy for every person to Discover God, Grow in Him, and Reach out to Others. If you’d like to visit a service, please join us each Sunday at 10am at 721 Weston Ave in St. James. Our services start at 10am and there is something for the entire family. Like us on Facebook.

You can contact the Pastor’s Wife via email at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

Why Church this Easter?

There used to be a tradition that people attended Church on Easter and Christmas. Even if they never attended any other time of the year. It used to be that weeks before Easter mothers everywhere searched for the perfect color coordinating outfits in the perfect pastels for their family so that Easter was the perfect photo opportunity. Pink plaids, eyelet lace, Easter bonnets, and collared shirts… AND CHURCH, that was the tradition. Then our society started to buck the traditional ways and people who attended church only on Christmas and Easter were given names like “Chreaster”, so even those 2 days got missed.

More and more churches are reaching out and people are politely declining the invitation to attend church. The tradition of going no longer holds any appeal, and the commitment of going is no longer a priority. As a regular church attendee, I haven’t missed an Easter Sunday service in 25 years. So if anyone has some experience in this, I’d be one of them… So would you take a moment and examine my answer to Why Church this Easter?

For a Christian, Easter is the foundation of our faith. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith would not exist. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He conquered death by defying its parameters. It’s what gives Christians life! So it seems fitting that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should set aside an hour each year to celebrate that. For me, I can hardly contain my delight. I’ve lived a blessed life following Jesus and trying my best to live close to His teachings. So when given the opportunity to gather with like-minded believers and specifically celebrate all that Jesus did, I’m ecstatic. Easter is my favorite time! But for those who are trying to live this life without a weekly boost of church, I can see how much harder the journey can become. So it’s all the more important to join a church Easter Sunday to reconnect, celebrate, and refuel.

For Christians who used to go to church, and have walked away from it for a time, this is a great time to try again. I’m all for coming to church every Sunday. I belong to a church that is just as excited to see someone walk in in October as they are to see someone come on Easter. However, sometimes it’s hard to make that decision to come back to church on a random October day (or any day)… but not on Easter. It’s almost expected. So it takes a pressure off.

For someone who is seeking, who is unsure where they fit in, Easter is a great time to visit and get a feel of the church. The attendance may be up for church that day, so it’s less intimidating for you to walk in as a new-comer. You’ll learn a lot about the Christian faith by coming on a day where the foundation of that faith is going to be celebrated. This is a great day to venture out and attend the church you’ve been thinking about attending for while.

For the regular attendee who has never missed a Sunday, don’t let this be the Sunday you miss! Of all the services I’ve ever attended at the various churches I’ve been to over the last couple of decades, Easter service is so heartwarming. The energy is high, the joy is evident, and the celebration is heavenly!

Now, here’s the thing. You may be thinking I’m giving a free pass to ONLY coming to church on Easter. You may be wondering why a church lover is promoting this “Chreaster” mentality.  And here is why… TODAY is the day of salvation. Today is the day of God’s favor. God set in motion thousands of years ago this EASTER celebration by giving us His son as a way for us. Jesus was the sacrifice that we could not give. He died in our place so we could have a relationship with God for all of eternity. The world thought they could kill Him. But, He could not be contained by their ideals and ways. He conquered death and rose from the dead. Christ raised Himself to show Himself powerful over death and sin. So, if Easter is the only time you plan on going to church this year… THEN GO! Go and see for yourself all that Christ as done. Go and fellowship with other believers and see how much that can benefit your life.

Sin and darkness creep at every corner. A day can’t go by that we aren’t affected by evil everywhere. We see it on the news, in the schools, at our jobs, and it’s increasing. The world won’t be won by marches, facebook rants, and divisions among political lines. But for that one special Easter Sunday you’ll get a glimpse of the Man who can change this world. With Christ in our hearts, and the encouragement we get from attending a church that helps us grow WE will be the change. And we’ll eventually overflow onto our neighbors so they THEY can be the change… and why wait any other Sunday but THIS EASTER!

Of course it’s the goal of every church that you’d return week after week… but you’ll have to make the decision to come the first time. So, Why Church this Easter? Why not? This just may be the day that changes your life!

Quick disclosure…

  • Please don’t let the pressure of color coordinated, perfect Easter outfits hinder you. Come!
  • Please don’t let your hate for tradition keep you from joining in the tradition of Church on Easter. Come!
  • Please don’t worry about the many years you haven’t made it to church, this is a new day, a new choice, and a new adventure. COME!
  • Please don’t be intimidated. We’ve been praying for you, we’re expecting you, and we are SO excited about you! YOU are welcome! COME!

If you are in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be meeting Easter Sunday at 9am for breakfast and our service will follow at 10:15am. YOU ARE INVITED!Copy of Church FlyersInvitation

Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN 507-375-5920 Follow us on Facebook

If you are too far for our services, and need a church recommendation, feel free to email the pastor’s wife at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com. I can find you a GREAT church in your area!

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What Life do you Choose?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. The weather has gone from bright and sunny and warm to snow flurries, cold, and gray. And it seems as if that has affected the beings living in my home. Including me! The grumbling has gotten to me. The unreasonable expectations have weighed me down. The constant reminder that I can not make everyone happy has brought days of tears to my eyes. And I’ve piled weight upon weight upon weight until I’m riddled with headaches, sleeplessness, and crabbiness.

 

The seasons of frustration, anger, moodiness, or just plain crabbiness might stem from the fact that I homeschool, so these beings (along with their frustrations, anger, moodiness, and crabbiness) are with me all.the.time. It might stem from my role as pastor wife, or the upcoming holiday schedule staring me in the face. It could stem from any number of outside influences demanding more and more when I feel I can offer less and less.

But here’s the thing. He who is in me (JESUS) is greater than he who is in the world (SATAN). Do I blame Satan for all bad things in my life? Is he the root of all my frustrations? All my anger? Moodiness and crabbiness? No, not completely. I blame myself. I blame myself for forgetting that I have Jesus within me to conquer all those emotions that sweep across me through the day. 1 John 4:4 is an encouragement to the early Christians who have overcome the lies false preachers were preaching in their day.  God says to them, “You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” We overcome BECAUSE of the Jesus in us. So when we feel defeated, deflated, down, and full of despair we know we have a Jesus in us who is WAY more powerful than the forces bringing us down.

No doubt many things that lure us to our crabby side come from the enemy. No doubt. He does not want us to live the life God intended. He does not want us to overcome and praise God for giving us victory. So he’ll whisper to you that you have a right to be offended. He’ll prompt you to lash out at a disobedient child, I mean, you ARE the authority! Satan will let you be comfortable thinking that “everyone yells, I’m fine”. But when it comes down to it, and when you are truly held accountable for your actions (emotions are one of those actions), it will all be on YOU.

So I’ll ask you what I’ve asked my 7-year-old many times this week. “What life do you want to live?”

We quote James 1:19 and 20 every day in my home. We need to! “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” We go even a step further and we discuss why it’s important to produce the righteousness God desires. God desires to give you life, And not a frustrated, anger-filled, moody, crabby one! He wants you to have an abundant life.

You see, Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your joy by being frustrated with everything. He wants to kill your relationships by being angry all the time, and he wants to destroy your day with a bad, crabby mood! But JESUS!!! Jesus wants to give life, and an ABUNDANT life! (John 10:10)

So what does that life look like? Is it free of all frustrating little tasks? Free from ever getting angry or offended? Does it mean that you’ll never have a moody day or fall into the pit of crabbiness? Oh I wish!

For me, one who faces frustrations everyday, who has to battle anger on a regular basis, who has the crazy life of homeschooling 4, babysitting full-time, and working a few hours outside the home where the temptation of being moody and crabby is right there… This abundant life looks like this:

I am making a lot of choices. I’m praying for perspective. I ask myself, reevaluate myself, and try again… and again… and again. I look at the child throwing a fit and say, “I could yell, or I could scoop her up and ask her to pray with me.” One will kill our relationship, one will bring a more abundant life.  A child has a meltdown over having to do a spelling test. I can let that frustration settle in, roll my eyes and spout out each word expressing just how frustrated I am. Or I could ask God for perspective, realize a tad more study time may solve the issue and encourage said child along the way. One can steal my (and their) joy, the other will bring confidence and thus a more abundant life. Someone is upset at me. I was unable to meet their expectation (I can hear the pastors’ wives out there nodding their heads!) I can fight attitude with attitude. Or I can re-evaluate, pray for a peaceful way to handle that situation, and leave the rest with God. One will destroy a friendship, and most likely a peaceful mood while the other gives abundant life.

It all boils down to what life you want to live. If you choose to dwell in the circumstances that surround you, to wallow in the despair that stress can bring you, you will choose a life of offense, unsettlement, and constant frustration. If you choose to live a life allowing the One who lives in you to conquer the one who lives in the world, you will choose a life of peace, joy, and power.

Verse 21 following the verse I quoted earlier urging us to be slow to anger because it doesn’t produce the righteousness God desires says, “So get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the POWER to save your souls.” (Emphasis mine). God desires not just to give abundant life on earth, but an eternal life in heaven. So rid yourself of the life sucking anger, and frustration. Get rid of the moodiness and crabby that settles in your brows. The evil one does not have your best interest in mind! He does not care about your peaceful life! And submit to the One who died in order to give you this life! Accept His word, and live in joy knowing that He has the power to save your soul! (And your attitude!)

And to end let me quote the “speech” I gave my 7-year-old today with tears streaming down my face.

“You have a battle going on for your soul, sweetie. The Devil wants to steal your joy, kill your relationships, and destroy your happy heart. But Jesus says, “SHE’S MINE!!! I died for her, I bought her with my blood, she accepted me, and she’s MINE!” And they fight and they fight because you’re worth fighting for. Jesus sees your potential. He sees how valuable you are when you have your joy, your strong relationships, and your happy heart. He knows you are an amazing girl. But Satan is fighting against you becoming that amazing person. So he fights to keep you angry, frustrated, and unsettled. He fights so he can own you, so he can get you to hurt those around you with your words, and disrespect authority. He wants you to have a life that hates all the time. And Jesus will not relinquish. He knows that He’s already died on that cross FOR YOU! He knows that you’ve chosen Him. And so now he fights for you to choose HIM in the midst of those frustrating times. He fights for you to choose HIM when math is hard, or when your brother doesn’t choose your game. He is pleading with you to choose HIS path, for it leads to a life that is full of blessings. His path leads to a prosperous life, plans that He himself has set up for you! But, honey… YOU have to choose. Who will win? What life will you choose? Mommy can’t choose for you. I sure wish I could, it would definitely NOT be this anger filled life. So all I can do is show you what’s going on and then ask… What life do you want?”

Who will win in the battle for your life? As for me? I’ll choose Jesus every time. It takes effort, self-discipline and a lot of  “taking thoughts captive”. But I’m living the fruits of choosing this life, and I see the fruits of choosing the other option.

If you do not have Jesus in you it’s hard to fight a battle with the one in the world. But, just like Jesus died for my little girl, He died for you, too. And he desires to give you a life… an abundant life. If you’d like to accept Jesus, and to choose to follow Him, please click on the link below for more clarification. 

http://followchrist.ag.org/

And Please, if you just made the choice today to follow Jesus, or if you’re struggling to choose the abundant life, please contact me. thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

If you live in the St. James area, please let the church surround you. Church friends can make such a difference in the life of a Christian. We meet at Crossroads Church 10am every Sunday. 721 Weston Ave. In St. James, MN. ALL are welcome! Visit our facebook page here.