5 Secrets You Need to Know About Saying No

Plus FREE Boundary Basics Cheat Sheet and Coaching Session

I’ve heard from several readers lately who want some help saying no—without guilt! In this post, I share five secrets that helped transform me from a chronic people-pleaser to a more healthy person who knows when and how to say no. So if you cringe when you’re asked to do something you know you need to pass on, you need to learn these secrets!

Secrets to Saying No

Saying No…

…Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Christian (Secret #1)

For believers, Jesus is our model. Previously, I wrote a post reflecting on the apostle Paul’s call for us to have the same mindset as Christ. So, one of the best guilt-relieving strategies is to read the Scriptures and notice how often God says no.

God is good all the time. And He says no frequently. Thus, we must conclude that it is not ungodly to say no when appropriate.

And that’s the catch for most of who struggle with this skill. How do we know when it is appropriate and godly to say no? And that leads us to the second and third secrets.

…Can Be the Most Loving Response (Secret #2)

God created each of us to be responsible for certain aspects of our life. If someone is capable of handling their responsibilities, but not willing to do so, God calls that irresponsibility. It is not loving to enable irresponsibility in others.

This is totally different from someone being in a crisis situation that they are unable to cope on their own. Life in this fallen world can overwhelm our God-given ability to shoulder some burdens. In those instances when our load becomes a legitimate burden, it is appropriate to ask for help. And as believers, when we are in a position to help carry someone’s burden, we want to respond lovingly and graciously.

Check your motive for saying yes. If it is fear-based (fear of guilt, looking bad, rejection, etc.) you’re probably well-within the bounds of love to say no. You need to deal with your fear and let the one asking for help deal with their responsibilities.

However, if your motive is to help someone do something because you have the capacity and resources and want to freely share those, then your yes is probably the godly response. Are you capable of helping them get their head above water without drowning yourself?

Jesus was capable of overcoming death and we were not. He left his position of glory to dive down into our swirling shipwreck and save us. He did for us what we were unable to do for ourselves. And he had the capacity and resources to do so. Living cruciform is not the same thing as living as a doormat for irresponsible people to use and abuse.

…Without Guilt IS Possible! (Secret #3)

Once you ground your thinking on this topic in God’s character as revealed in the Scriptures and you understand how to determine if your yes will enable irresponsibility versus help shoulder another’s legitimate burden, you’ll begin to feel the guilt dissipate.

You’ll also be better prepared to counter manipulative responses to an appropriate no.

If you are gripped by fear or guilt, you probably need to brush up on your boundary-setting basics. Learning the biblical principles of healthy boundary setting will equip you to give voice to guilt-free nos when appropriate.

…Gets Easier with Practice. (Secret #4)

Boundary setting and saying no is a skill. And as with any skill it takes time to hone your knowledge and capability. Planning and practicing your new skills will make it easier for you to get that no out in real life circumstances.

Also, it can be extremely helpful to have a more experienced boundary-setter mentor you and model the skill. As you see someone else put the strategies into practice in day-to-day situations, you’ll realize you can do it as well. And they can role-play situations you regularly struggle with so you’re prepared with the words (and will) to follow through without beating yourself up.

You’ll learn how to give a no with grace. Saying no doesn’t have to be callous. A good no is given while communicating respect and concern for the one requesting something. Practicing with a mentor will help you polish your wording so as to graciously decline.

…Leads to More Peace, Less Stress (Secret #5)

When you are empowered and equipped to extend a godly no, you’ll begin to get your head above the waves of overwhelm.

You’ll be exercising better stewardship over your resources and God-given realm of responsibilities. This will mean you have the margin and capacity to be a strong bearer of burdens for people who really need your help; instead of being loaded down with the castoffs of the shiftless sluggards.

Free Resource to Help You Brush up on your Boundary Basics

If you’re boundary-setting muscles are a bit atrophied, grab this Boundary Basics cheat sheet and begin gaining the skills you need to strengthen your ability to grant some gracious nos.

Get your FREE Boundaries cheat sheet!

Claim your FREE Coaching Session Now!

In keeping with Secret #4, I want to provide you with a free coaching session to show you how helpful it can be to have a more experienced boundary-setter backing you up and role-playing your difficult no-saying scenarios. To book your free session, just click on button below and pick a date and time that fits your schedule.

Book Your Free Session Now!

Overpower Your What Ifs With These Whatevers

The pilot announced it would be a rough flight. So unstable, in fact, he was asking the flight attendants to remain in their seats for most of the two and a half hour trip.  I am a really fearful flyer. So, you can imagine my knee-jerk reaction to the news our captain relayed as we prepared for take-off. Thankfully, Paul’s words in Philippians brought godly wisdom to my worried mind. I had a choice about what I would focus on.

Silence the negative voice-airplane

I could allow my focus to be on the things I had no control over (for example, the turbulence). Or, I could place my attention on God and keep my thoughts within the scope of stewardship He had given me.

While the Holy Spirit can equip us to know things we couldn’t possibly know on our own, we sure make things easier when we do our part to prepare our minds and hearts to hear from Him.

All the time I’ve been investing in studying and meditating on Philippians in preparation for my upcoming class, meant the words of Scripture were primed and prepared for the Holy Spirit to bring to my mind.

Philippians4_8

 

Long-time readers know I struggle with fear even on the smoothest of flights. I’ve written before about this issue.

My mind tends to fill with images of every story of airline catastrophes I’ve ever heard, read, or seen. I race through the “what ifs” and let my imagination spin terrifying scenarios.

  • “What if the mechanics missed tightening some bolt and a critical piece of the aircraft fails?”
  • “What if the pilot is tired or distracted or incompetent.”
  • “What if…”

Stress increases whenever I try to control anything beyond the realm of stewardship God has apportioned to me. Paul’s admonition from Philippians 4:8 reminded me of this.

So, I quickly went through my checklist of what my Creator had placed within my control:

Realm of Stewardship

Mental Realm

I have been given dominion over my thoughts, attitudes, desires.

Emotional Realm

I can determine how I respond to circumstances and the behavior of other people. I control my emotional response in terms of my feelings and whether and how I will choose to give and receive love.

Physical Realm

I have authority over my body and to a certain extent my material possessions.

Spiritual Realm

I may decide what I believe, value, and think about God. God allows me the free will to decide if I will accept the truth He reveals of Himself.

Practical Application of My Stewardship

As the plane taxied to the runway, there were many variables over which I had absolutely no control and which were screaming for my anxious attention.

As the jet bumped along the final few yards of contact with the solid ground, I prayed that God would show me how to apply Philippians 4:8 to each of these areas in which he gives me responsibility.

Being that I was presently engaged in prayer, I naturally started with the spiritual realm.

What do I know to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy about God? As rubber separated from asphalt and we began our ascent, I mutely sang out to God (with the help of my carefully chosen playlist of praise songs blasting through my earphones) all the reasons I could think of that he was completely trustworthy; whatever the circumstance.

Then, as I noticed my hands clenching and my body tensing, I applied the truth that even soaring through the clouds, I had stewardship of my own body. While I couldn’t control the weather, the plane, or anyone else on the plane, I could determine my own physical response to my setting.

I focused on taking deep breaths, relaxing into the seat, and resting in the knowledge that the One I had just praised and acknowledged as good, sovereign, loving, and for me was in control of all the variables over which I wasn’t.

While that didn’t mean the outcome would be what I wanted, I realized I could trust God to be with me in whatever we would face during the flight. Just like I can trust Him to be present in whatever circumstances I face each day when my feet are firmly on the ground.

God is Lord of heaven and earth. What is true about Him, me, and creation when I’m at sea level remains true at 35,000 feet. I focused on that and headed off any thoughts about the unlovely what ifs. I exercised dominion over the thoughts I let hang out in my brain.

I chose an attitude of surrender and trust. And I chose to love God because of who He is rather than whether or not He was giving me the smooth, fear-free ride I wanted.

I focused on naming God’s attributes, His noble, pure, admirable, lovely, and praiseworthy characteristics and acts.

As I silently praised Him and recalled all the ways He has demonstrated his love for me in the past, I felt His peace settle in on me.

The entire flight (with the exception of about 15 minutes) was turbulent. However, because I focused on God and not my circumstances, I never had a panic attack. I actually was able to focus on studying and make a little progress in preparing for class. But most importantly, I had two and a half hours of worship rather than worry.

How can you apply this in your life?

I don’t know what challenges you face today, but whatever you come up against, confront it with God and in His strength.

Whatever your need, surrender it to Him.

Take your “whatevers” and “what ifs” and apply Paul’s “whatever” exhortations of Philippians 4:8 to them. Exercise your God-given authority within your realm of stewardship and leave everything else to God.

For it is God who is effectively at work in you, to strengthen, energize, and create in you the longing and the ability to work out in your realm of stewardship the transformation He has worked in you. Therefore, let your fear and trembling be because you acknowledge how holy, true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy your Savior is. (See Philippians 2:13)

Want to study Philippians with me?

If you would like to dig in to the Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi and mine it for the truth and grace applicable to all believers across time and in whatever circumstances we face, I would be so excited to have you join me.

Class will be held on Tuesdays (chose either 9:30 am or 6:30 pm) beginning April 18, 2017. I’m partnering with my home church, Main Street Baptist Church in downtown Georgetown, Texas. Classes will be held there and free childcare (with pre-registration) will be offered.

At this time, I’m not offering an online version, but I may, in the future, create an online video series to accompany the workbook for my out-of-towners!

I’m not quite ready to open registration as I’m still finishing up my lesson plans and the workbook. But if you want more info check out my “coming soon page”.

Learn More!

 

Got pain? I know a pain-taker!

Got chains? I know a chain-breaker!

Whatever you’re struggling with, Jesus can set you free! Grammy-nominated artist, Zach Williams, distills the truth of this in his song Chain Breaker.

I love this song and what it says. But I also love they way Zach sings it. His voice, the lyrics, and the music all come together to glorify our God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

So if…

  • you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles
  • you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
  • you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside

There’s a better life, there’s a better life.

Walk with Jesus and let him show you what is possible in Him.

I pray that you are blessed by this lyric video of Zach’s song:

How can I pray for you?

I would love to pray for you and/or with you. Just email me and let me know how I can pray for you. If you want me to pray with you over the phone, be sure and include your phone number and a couple options for when I should reach out to you.

Gain a new perspective on your problems!

Enter the contest for a free paperback by author Wayne Stiles; plus grab the special freebies!

Wayne-pic-blog

This is a guest post by Wayne Stiles. You can download his free e-book on how to grow strong in the Christian life. I subscribe to his blog and really enjoy how he connects the Bible and its lands to our everyday real life!

Also, I loved his book, Waiting on God—What do do when God does nothing!
Enter my contest to win a free copy of that book. Just leave a comment below!

Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.

A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.

Perspective on Problems Guest Post

Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.

Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.

God is much bigger than your marbles.

Playing Marbles with Jesus

Jesus gave a bag of marbles to His disciples one day. More than 5000 marbles, in fact. They described it this way:

His disciples came up to Him and began saying,

The place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.

But He answered and said to them,

You give them something to eat!”

And they said to Him,

Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” —Mark 6:35-37

The disciples did what we do. We ask God to get rid of the problem.

Jesus’ command was as astonishing as it was emphatic:

YOU give them something to eat.

The men leaned in to look closely at the marbles, they did the math, and they saw the impossibility of Jesus’ command.

And that is exactly what we need to learn as well.

1024px-7dbpc315432-marble

(Photo by wjlonien, Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Lord will lead you to do what you cannot do on your own.

God has called us to some impossible tasks. The odds will always be 5000 to 12.

Your education, your money, your planning, your energy, your influence, your personality—everything you have at your disposal will fail to solve the problem.

The disciples focused on their marbles and saw the inadequacy of their resources. Even though they were willing, they were unable to do what Jesus had said.

The Lord can enable you to do what you cannot do on your own.

If Christ called them to feed more than 5000 people, and what they had was inadequate, the Lord must have had a source of supply they had overlooked.

Jesus took the few loaves and fish and multiplied them for the more than 5000 people that day (Mark 6:44). The number of people mentioned reveal that the size of the marble is absolutely irrelevant. God is bigger—much, much bigger.

After the disciples saw the true size of this marble—small to God—Jesus immediately tossed them another marble in the form of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Their response? Yep. They focused on the marble.

life is a bag of marbles

(Photo by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

They had to learn what we have to learn. Our marbles come in all colors and shapes, but none of them are bigger than God. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Get Some Perspective on Your Marbles

I don’t mean to minimize your problems. They’re real. They hurt. They even seem cruel at times. Instead, I’m suggesting you keep them in perspective.

God asks rhetorical questions of Himself that we should ponder:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? . . . Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. —Isaiah 40:12, 15

Yes, the marble is there. But keep it in perspective.

God is bigger.

A Photo to Help Keep Things in Perspective

perspective on troubles

I’ve made a printable that goes along with Wayne’s excellent post. I adapted the graphic above to fit in a 4 x 6 frame vertically. Just request a copy and I’ll email you a digital version of the photo. You can print it at home or your favorite photo processor and pop it in a frame to remind you where to take your troubles!

Send me the photo!

Will you win the free copy of Wayne’s book I’m giving away?

Next Friday, I’ll randomly select someone to win a copy of Wayne’s amazing book: Waiting on God—What to do when God does nothing. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment on this post below.

If you don’t want to share publicly about your problems, just leave a general comment you feel comfortable sharing. Extra entries to anyone who shares this post on social media and tags Making It Real Ministries on Facebook or @LauraNaiser on Twitter!

What's your marble? Share what feels like the weight of the world to you right now. I’ll lift you up to our faithful and mighty God in prayer! And you’ll be entered to win a copy of Wayne’s book Waiting on God! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Make 3 Mindset Shifts and Get Out of Your Fearful Funk

3-mindset-changes

When we are depressed, anxious, or flat-out afraid many of us tend to retreat into hiding. We go to our comfortable spots and hunker down. For me, I tend to burrow into the sofa and escape to the land of Netflix.

STILL WATCHING Netflix

But hiding like that doesn’t solve any of my problems, it just distracts me from them. And far from improving my situation, my passivity almost always makes things worse.

I’ve found my key to getting off the couch is a shift in my mindset. Once my thinking tacks, I find it easier to move forward with action. And the more action I take, the less depressed and hopeless I feel.

Israel’s Cycles of Ups and Downs

The book of Judges records the long years of conflict and oppression God’s people experienced after entering the Promised Land. The stories you’ll find in this book represent a time when the nation of Israel seesawed spiritually, physically, economically, and emotionally from highs to lows.

The story of Gideon, in particular, illustrates the impact of internalizing and living out of a godly perspective. When we internalize biblical truth we are empowered to emerge from our hiding places and walk in God’s strength.

When the angel of the Lord initially seeks out Gideon, he finds him threshing wheat in a winepress. (Judges 6:11) This would be kinda like an angel coming to call me and finding me swaddled in a blanket on the sofa three hours into a Netflix marathon.

Nobody threshes wheat in a winepress. One has to be out in the open where the airflow can seperate the wheat from the chaff. Gideon was clearly hiding out in fear.

The first mindset shift Gideon needed to make in order to come out of hiding and take action are revealed in the words of the angel.

1. Recognize the Lord is with You

The very first thing the angel said to Gideon was, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” God sees in him strength, courage, and capabilities Gideon is oblivious to while focused on his troubles and fears.

judges-6_12

When we remember that the Lord is with us and promises to never forsake us, we begin to shift our thinking toward God and away from the strongholds that drag us down.

Gideon’s response to this first message demonstrates he isn’t yet ready to come out of hiding. He questions the messenger as to why all these bad things are happening to him and God’s people if the Lord is with them.

The angel’s response is the key to our second mindset shift.

2. You Have Strength, Use it!

The Lord’s response via the angel is to the point:

Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)

Our strength is God. And on this side of the resurrection of Christ, we have something eternally that Gideon only had temporarily: God within us.

We must not wait until all our circumstances are ideal. We need to take action now with what we’ve got and trust God to fill in the gap between our insufficiency and what is needed to fulfill our calling.

There is a reason the Almighty uses weak people like me and you: so it is clear the power is not ours but is God’s within us. The power and the glory belong to God.

2-cor-12_9

We can’t boast but we also can’t hide. We’ve got to get off the couch and go in the strength we have. To do this, we need our third mindset shift…

3. Get God Back on the Throne

In reality God actually never comes off his throne of sovereignty. However, when our thinking gets out of wack, we can allow other things to crowd out his rightful place on the throne of our heart and minds.

We must recognize God’s rightful place: first place in everything. (see Colossians 1:17-18)

Colossians 1:17-18 NRSV

Right Thinking Leads to Right Actions

In Gideon’s case, wrapping his head around these three truths capacitated his ability to take action.

His first task: tear down the idols the Israelites had been worshiping instead of God.

Do you see the transition from internal change of thinking to external action?

Taking action is scary. In Gideon’s case (and often in ours) new thinking initiates new actions which brings conflict with his friends and family. We will begin to live differently and in ways that impact those around us. Conflict or disapproval from those around us can be navigated successfully if we have firmly fixed in our mind the three concepts conveyed to Gideon by the Lord.

Gideon tore down the idols. However, please notice, he didn’t do it gallantly. (Judges 6:25-27) Yet, he did it nonetheless. (Judges 6:27) His courageous action originated in his shifted thinking.

"Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.--John Wayne

 

Seek Reassurance from God When You Need It Then Saddle Up

Over and over again, we see Gideon express his fear as he takes bigger and bigger action in response to God’s leading. When he is scared, he asks God for confirmation and reassurance. God patiently provides. (Judges 6:17, 36-40)

The fear doesn’t go away but Gideon doesn’t allow the fear to have the final word. He gives that to God.

We aren’t action heroes, we are children of God. We don’t have to be graceful, confident in ourselves, or even unafraid. We just need to take action with what we’ve got. And remember, as a believer, what you’ve got is the Lord with you!

not-action-heros

 

If you’re in fearful funk right now, I encourage you to read Gideon’s story in Judges 6. Let it help you incorporate within yourself the three biblical truths:

  1. Recognize the Lord is with you.
  2. You have strength, use it!
  3. Get God Back on the Throne

Then put your new way of thinking into action. Seek reassurance from the Lord as you need to, and come out of hiding. Walk in the knowledge you are a mighty warrior capable of living out God’s call on your life because He is with you.

Fear-Fighting Checklist & Scripture Verses

3 Mindset Changes LM FI

Why is it so hard to honestly answer the question, “Is everything OK?”

Plus a FREE GUIDE: 9 Strategies You Can Use to Defeat Depression

Recently one of my friends noticed I had not been posting regularly to my blog over the summer. So, she emailed me and asked a simple question: “Is everything OK?” She is one of my closest friends on earth, though we no longer get to see each other that often. So, I shouldn’t have had any qualms about telling her the truth. But I procrastinated for weeks before admitting my honest answer to that little question was, “No, actually, everything is not OK. I’m kind of a mess right now—more of a mess than usual.”

Matthew 14 on waves

The truth is I’ve been struggling with chronic pain since April. It has made getting a good night’s sleep impossible with out pharmaceutical assistance. Walking is painful. And the pain makes concentrating difficult. So, I’ve been very haphazard about writing posts.

In fact, I’ve become very haphazard about doing just about everything the past few months.

Not being able to move about and stick to my regular routine inevitably led to me doing quite a few marathons…on Netflix.

STILL WATCHING Netflix

And so it is no surprise that I slipped into a pretty deep depression.

Which makes it even harder to concentrate and take care of my normal responsibilities. So I feel guilty and like a big ol’ slug. See how the things can easily spin out of control?

What stops the vicious cycle?

There are a number of things we can do to interrupt the pattern of increasing depression. I’ve made you a simple guide to the nine things I’ve found helpful in my current and past bouts with this malady (see below). And while we do need to take practical steps such as these, I’ve found the Psalmist offers the most significant means of gaining hope and perspective in the midst of the despair.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

Even in the darkest moments, when I fix my eyes on God and call out to him, I find hope. Much like Peter walking on the water, when my focus shifts away from Christ, I begin sinking in despair. But as soon as I call out to him, I feel his grip upon me.

It isn’t always easy or pretty, but it is as simple as looking up and crying out, “Lord, save me!” It doesn’t mean the waves and wind no longer roll and thunder. It simple means I’m safe in his hand and he will pull me back up when I sink.

I pray you don’t ever experience depression, but if you do (or if someone you care about does), perhaps the words of the Psalmist, Peter, or myself will encourage you to keep your gaze turned heavenward and let our Savior lift you up.

Grab this FREE Guide: 9 Things You Can Do to Defeat Depression!

FYI, I’ve got a link to a list of helpful Scripture passages in Number 9. Click the button below and I’ll email you the guide immediately!

Depression - FREE GUIDE

Send Me the FREE GUIDE!

How about you? What coping strategies or other insights have you found helpful (or unhelpful) with regarding to dealing with depression? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Secret to Nipping Anxiety in the Bud!

Plus a FREE Cheat Sheet with 5 Practical Strategies to Weed Out Worry!

For much of the past 18 months, I struggled with anxiety. It began as a fear of flying. We traveled more than usual in 2015 and I had to fly several times within the span of a few months. I made the mistake of focusing on my fear. As I gave it more and more attention, the anxiety became stronger and more problematic. Eventually, the fear was no longer tied to one specific issue. I began having panic attacks on a regular basis, my sleep was disrupted, and I was seeking comfort and distraction in food. Having battled depression in the past, I recognized I was spiraling down and needed to seek help. Now, successfully on the other side of the battle, I want to offer some encouragement. If you, like me and 40 million American adults, are affected by anxiety disorders, read on. And even if you don’t struggle with this issue yourself, I bet you know someone who does. Encourage them by sharing this with them.

Philippians3_8-Anxiety-2

CC-0 Unsplash | Leonardo Wong

Nip It In the Bud

Worry is like a weed. If you don’t rip it out by its root, it will continue to return and grow. If not dealt with, anxiety can choke out the beneficial things God intends to grow and flourish in your life.

This is one instance when Barney Fife had it right.

We’ve got to nip anxiety in the bud. Don’t let it take root and develop. The earlier you recognize the problem and take action to deal with it, the better off you will be.

And if you can prevent the weed of worry from taking root in the first place; even better! One of the best ways to prevent or begin to eradicate anxiety is to eliminate the environment which contributes to its growth.

The weed of worry grows in the soil of insecurity. When we focus on the things that breed insecurity, we provide the perfect environment for anxiety to flourish.

If you want peace, you must plant yourself in secure soil. The apostle Paul wrapped up his letter to the church at Philippi with this very point.

The Philippians’ reasoned their Roman citizenship provided unprecedented safety. Paul reminded these believers their true security was derived from their citizenship in heaven, not Rome, and from their Savior’s power to bring everything under his control (Philippians 3:20–21).

Paul then gave them (and us) practical ways to cultivate this peace-filled environment.

It is easy to focus on earthly things and depend on them to keep us safe. Or convince ourselves if we just mull over the scary scenario one more time, we can gain control over our circumstances. However, if we place our confidence in anything other than Jesus, we sow in the shifting soil where worries thrive.

Instead, root your hope in the surety of Christ. And keep your focus, not on your fears, but on what you want more of in your life.

If you want to see how I put this into practice on our trip to Hawaii last summer, watch the video blog post I made about facing my fears. I hope it encourages you (and gives you a laugh or two). FYI, this trip took place at the height of my problems with the panic attacks.

Anchor yourself to the unwavering stability of Christ and then keep your gaze fixed on him and all that he represents.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” —Philippians 4:6-9 NIV

In this soil, peace flourishes no matter the circumstances because our Lord is always near and in control. The right source of assurance prevents disturbing thoughts from taking root in the first place. And prayer keeps our focus on the proper things rather than allowing our fearful fantasies to run amok.

FREE Cheat Sheet: 5 Strategies to Weed Out Worry

Now that we know how to prevent apprehensive ideas from growing like weeds, we can take steps to yank our existing worries out by their root. Paul’s advice in Philippians 3:19-4:19 correlates to five strategies I have found effective for eradicating these weeds. I’ve summarized these strategies in a FREE Cheat Sheet so you can put them to work in your life. Just click the button below to request your free copy.

Get the FREE Cheat Sheet!

Get the FREE Cheat Sheet!

Put it into Practice

Recognize the difference between soil that encourages worry weeds and soil that enables the growth of peace. Then, put into practice sound strategies for ripping your worries out by the root. This will allow you to say along with Paul:

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

Trust God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus and may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Please note, I am not a therapist or psychologist. I share this, instead, as someone who has been down this weary path and emerged stronger and less fearful.

Question: What helps you keep your anxious thoughts in check so they don’t disrupt your life and relationships? Let’s help each other with this very common struggle! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why We Can Count on God to Be Faithful

Waiting is hard but knowing who we wait for makes it easier to wait expectantly.

My prayers lately have been increasingly filled with intercession on behalf of many who are enduring illness, grief, uncertainty, and trials of many kinds. And as I look around at our world and the rampant chaos and suffering, I, like the prophet Habakkuk, cry out to God: “How can a holy and just God allow this suffering? How can you let the wicked prevail and let good people suffer?” This morning, God answered me by taking me on a tour through Habakkuk, Colossians, and Second Peter. In the words of Scripture, God answered my question. “Wait for it…”

Wait for It

God reminded me, as he reminded Habakkuk, that just because I can’t understand why God works the way he does, doesn’t mean I can’t trust God.

And just because God doesn’t work according to my time table, doesn’t mean he isn’t working.

Over and over through the history of God’s interaction with his Creation, he proved his ways and timing are good and just; that in all things he is working to restore and redeem. In all things, and using the most unlikely and even unseemly people and circumstances, God always fulfills his promises and reveals himself to be holy and just.

So when we struggle and face unfair suffering, we can call out to him and he will reassure us of his faithfulness, goodness, and justness.

When we can’t count on anyone or anything else, we can count on God to be faithful.

We Want Either; God is Both

Ironically, when we are the ones sinning and suffering we plead for mercy. But when others sin against us, in our humanness, we cry out for vengeance and swift justice. Depending on our circumstances we want God to be either merciful or just, but God is always both merciful and just.

God repeatedly warns his people not to confuse his patience with permission to sin. He shows mercy and long-suffering because he desires to see all redeemed (2 Peter 3:9). But he is just and thus all wrongdoing must be accounted for.

In fact, we know that he has poured out his wrath on sin. He poured it out on the cross.

Every sin, every injustice, every act of rebellion was met with God’s holy and just wrath poured out on Christ who bore all of humanity’s sin.

Our sin and the sin of those who sin against us were all covered by Christ’s blood.

Are You Offended by God?

Habakkuk was offended when God declared he would use a brutal, pagan people to bring his own covenant people to repentance (see Habakkuk 1-2).

Likewise, we can find it offensive to realize that the same blood that covers our sins is the blood that covers those who sin against us.

But let’s not be like the unmerciful servant who refused to forgive a small debt despite having his own massive debt forgiven (See Matthew 18:21-35).

Let us take to heart Paul’s words to remember what God has done for us:

Since you’ve been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed—and he is your life—you, too, will be revealed with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4

We have even more reason than Habakkuk did to trust in God. We have the Holy Spirit, the deposit that guarantees the fulfillment of God’s promise to make all things new in Christ.

And because we are filled with his Spirit, in our suffering, he will supply us with his strength to persevere. He will fill us with his Spirit so that we can join Habakkuk in declaring:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.—Habakkuk 3:17-19

Wait for It

We don’t have to know when and how God will fulfill his promise of making all things new. We know he will.

Peter, encouraged believers facing unimaginable hardship and persecution to persevere in their faith. He called them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” as they waited for God to fulfill his promise to make a new heaven and a new earth free from sin, pain, injustice, and sorrow. Those ancient words are also for us.

So, I will lean into my good God and entrust to his grace and mercy those who are hurting and suffering. I will confess that I have mistaken his patience with permission and allow his discipline to restore me to his path. I will bring my confusion, sorrow, and frustration to the cross and trust God to redeem it all in his way and in his timing.

Will you join me in waiting expectantly for God?

Something to Help You Wait Expectantly

If you’re in a difficult time of waiting to see God act, I highly recommend my friend Wayne Stiles’ book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing. Want a sample of the rich Scriptural wisdom you will find in the pages of his book? Download the summary sheet I made listing my favorite “takeaways” or principles presented in Wayne’s book. Just click the picture or button below to get your free copy of this summary sheet.

Waiting On God Principles

Yes! Send me the summary!

Your turn.... What helps you trust in God’s faithfulness when you face difficult circumstances or people? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

What Happens When We Bring Our Brokenness to God

Grab your copy of the FREE Step-by-Step Guide to Strengthening Your Relationship with Christ!

When my youngest son, Justin, was about 5, we bought him an Indiana Jones action figure set. He loved it and played with it all the time. But, one day I noticed he hadn’t played with it in a while. In fact, he had tried to hide it.

When I asked him about it, he hemmed and hawed and made some lame excuse for not playing with it anymore.

I knew something had happened to it.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I knelt down and looked in his sweet, chubby little face and said,

Justin, I love you, no matter what. And if something has happened to your toy, if you’ll bring it to me, I’ll help you fix it.”

He looked up at me with such relief and he ran and retrieved his little action figure out from under his bed.

He brought me Indiana Jones —like this:

Indiana Jones Story

Somehow Indy’s head had come off.

Justin knew what was wrong. He just couldn’t fix the problem himself.

But as soon as he was honest with me about his problem and brought it to me, I fixed it for him. And he was able to take his restored action figure and get back to using it for its intended purpose.

From Broken to Whole

That is exactly how it worked for me when I first came to Christ. I knew something was broken in me. I just wasn’t able to fix it no matter how hard I tried.

But God could and he wanted to. He wants to for everyone.

I didnt have to do anything except bring God my brokenness and trust that what he had already done on the cross was sufficient to redeem me and make me whole.

In that moment of initially getting real with God and accepting his grace, he gave me a new identity. I was now his child.

My new identity brought with it a new kind of security. Because I am his child he will never leave me or forsake me. Wow!

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, John describes this transformation  in verse 12:

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God “— John 1:12 (NIV)

New Identity, New Security

Our identity as believers is that of God’s child, and our security is found in that relationship.

But it took time for that new identity and security to sink in, and for me to consistently live out of that new reality.

I had to grow in my understanding of him and his love for me. And as I grew in my relationship with God, I began to understand the implications of that relationship for all of the other relationships in my life.

Getting real with God, becoming his child, is just the beginning of the journey.

We have entered the gate and are secure in his sheepfold. (See John 10:1-18) But once we are in the gate, we are to follow our Good Shepherd, growing and maturing as we go.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus described these two aspects of a relationship with him:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Did you catch that, he calls us to not only come to him but to learn from him.

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, walking authentically with him and learning from him, we experience more and more the life he came to give us.

This new life as his disciple is a process, not something that we will master instantaneously.

If we are not nurturing our relationship with Jesus, we can quickly forget where our identity and security truly come from.

When we pull away from Jesus, we limit our ability to tap into our source for abundant living.

Our pulling away or ignoring him doesnt change the reality that we are God’s child, but it limits our experience of the abundant life he gives us.

Listen, we live in a corrupt, broken world, and it can take a toll on us.

  • It beats us over the head with messages that we are not good enough,
  • batters us with a never ending stream of trials and temptations, and
  • fills our calendars with so much busyness that it shoves us off track from spending time on the truly important things.

It isn’t enough to just go through the religious motions.

We must consistently bring that real self—the one that has been beaten, battered, and shoved off track—back into the presence of God and let him remind us of who we really are—his beloved child.

If we don’t go to God, we will end up going to the world and other people for our identity and security.

Get This Free Step-by-Step Guide

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If you need a little guidance as to how to

  • grow closer to Christ,
  • bring your true self to him regularly, and
  • find the peace, purpose, and passion for life that Christ intends for you to have, then…

Grab the FREE GUIDE I’ve made for you. It will walk you through some simple, practical steps to strengthening your relationship with him.

To request your copy, just click the button below and I’ll email it to you instantly!

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Your turn...  What does it feel like when you bring your messy, broken self to God and let him put you back together and make you whole? What helps you do that? What makes it difficult? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Your Power Is NOT in Yourself But in His Spirit

FREE 4 x 6 Print to Encourage and Remind You

Even when we are excited, energized, and eager to pursue God’s calling on our lives, there are inevitably times when it gets scary. And if you’re not periodically frightened by the challenges you face, may I respectfully suggest you are probably living within your comfort zone rather than truly running hard after God’s purpose for your life. He rarely calls us to the safe and comfy boat and regularly beckons us out on the wild waves. So, for those moments when you feel in over your head, repeat the words of encouragement on the photo below.

By the power of His Spirit-2

Get a FREE Printable

I’ve made you a free 4 x 6 high resolution version of the gorgeous photo by Roberto Nickson shown above. It includes the encouraging words from this post to remind you where your power comes from when you get discouraged! Click the button below and I’ll instantly email you a file that you can upload to your favorite photo printer (Shutterfly, Walgreens, Target, etc. or your home printer) and have prints made that will fit in a standard size frame.

Send me that photo!

The Water May Not Always Be Smooth But Don’t Be Afraid!

One of my favorite passages is found in Matthew 14:22-33. This is the account of Jesus walking on water. Immediately after he miraculously feeds more than 5,000 people with five small loaves and two little fish, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and head off across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus remains behind to dismiss the crowd and spend some time alone with his Father in prayer. Sometime between 3:00 am and 6:00 am, Jesus walked across the lake to catch up with the guys in the boat. They were battling waves and wind which can be fierce on the Sea of Galilee. Seeing what they thought was a ghost, the men were terrified. But Jesus said to them,

Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Then Peter does the most astonishing thing—at least I find it extraordinary. He asks Jesus to call him out on the water with Jesus. And Jesus says, “Come.” Then Peter climbed out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus! 

It was only when he became distracted by the wind that he faltered in fear and began to sink. He cried out to Jesus who immediately reached out and caught him. Jesus chided Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt.” And when they both boarded the boat, the wind and waves calmed and those with Jesus declared,

Truly you are the Son of God.”

It is easy to head out on your mission when the lake is smooth as glass. It is much harder when the winds whip the surface into threatening waves. Yet, either way, getting out of the boat would not be my first inclination. So, I’m impressed with Peter’s faith and “out-of-the-boat/box” thinking. He has the right idea. He wants to be doing what Jesus is doing and be where Jesus is. I want that too.

May God give me and you the courage and faith to follow Jesus onto the crashing waves.

Take Courage2

 

Praying Scripture for You

The same strength that raised Christ from the dead is the the power God places in us by his Spirit to empower us to do what he calls us to do. Like Peter, we may slip and fall sometimes, we may let the doubt and distractions creep in and crowd out our concentration on Jesus, but when we cry out for help, he will be there.

I couldn’t remember exactly where in the Scriptures I had read that the power we have access to is the same power that raised Christ. So I looked it up (It is found within Ephesians 1:15-23, by the way). Paul mentions it in a section of his letter where he conveys what he is praying on the recipients’ behalf. It was so beautiful, I want to pray those same sentiments over you now.

Glorious Father God of our Lord Jesus Christ, may you give to all whose eyes fall upon these words the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know Jesus better. I pray also that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which you have called them, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe.

That power is like the working of your mighty strength, which you exerted in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And you, God, placed all things under Christ’s feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

When we feel doubt or fear, remind us of the power that dwells within us. Help us fix our eyes on Jesus, grasp hold of his outstretched hand, and rise above the challenges to complete the work you have called us to. In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Don’t forget your FREE Printables

After making the second graphic above, I decided I wanted a 4 x 6 of that for you as well. So click either or both buttons below to let me know which photo(s) to email to you. Enjoy!

Photo #1 is

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Photo # 2 is:

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Your turn... What causes you to become afraid or overwhelmed while trying to answer God’s call on your life? What helps you through the fear/overwhelm? You can leave a comment by clicking here.