Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Comfort for when you are dealing with fear, stress, or anxiety.

When our first born, Preston, was just two years old, we took him to a resale shop that was having its grand opening. The store was Once Upon a Child, and they had a couple of people in Dora and Diego costumes waving to people out by the street to create excitement and draw people in. We pointed them out to Preston as we pulled into our parking spot, thinking he was going to love it. Well, we were wrong. Preston immediately started expressing his disinterest in them, using words like "scary" to describe them. We reassured him that they were out by the street, so he had nothing to worry about. We took him into the store and began our shopping. While we were in the store, however, the "costumes" decided to come in and greet the children. I wouldn't have even known that Dora and Diego were in the store except for Preston's reaction to them. He ran over to the corner of the store and wedged himself into the corner and started yelling, "SCARED," while sobbing. I looked over at him and saw him being hysterical. From what I could tell, there was nothing wrong around him, but he was clearly panicking, which made me scared. I asked him, "Preston, what's wrong?" and then he pointed, and I realized what was happening. Other kids were lining up to hug Dora and Diego, taking pictures, laughing, and having a great time. Meanwhile, my child was being traumatized. He kept staring at the "costumes" like he was seeing the Devil himself. "PRESTON! Look at mommy!" I tried to shout over his crying. I wanted to reassure him it was okay, but I couldn't get him to look away from the thing that was scaring him. "Look at mommy, Preston! You're okay!" Eventually I had to give up on the idea of consoling him while in the store and carry him out of the store. He settled down once we were outside. Just a few minutes later, though, Dora and Diego came outside, and we had to start the calming process all over again. For months afterward, any time we went to a store, he would ask if there were going to be any "costumes" there, and we would have to tell him, "No, Preston, there will not be any costumes at Walmart." (or JCPenney. . . or wherever we happened to be going that day).

Preston is almost seven years old now and has completely forgotten about his first trip to Once Upon a Child, but I still think back to that moment sometimes. . . The moment when he had a choice to make: to look at me and be reassured and comforted, or to continue to look at the thing that was scaring him and feed his fear.

Where do you look to when you are afraid?  There are times when I am more like my two-year-old son than I would like to admit. Sometimes I stare at my fears until they look bigger than they really are, when I really should be looking to God and praying in faith, knowing that God's got me and it's going to be alright. I have been reading the Psalms lately in my devotional time, and I have been reminded over and over again of many things. Here are just a few:
1. God comforts us with his love and faithfulness, 
2. God offers peace as we trust in him,
3. God offers his protection and provision as we look to him. 
I have been sharing some podcasts this week from my Pastor, Gene Tanner, on the names of God, because I have found that taking the focus off of myself, my worries, my fears, and my stresses, and reflecting on the names of God instead has been a great source of strength and comfort for me, and I wanted to pass that on. Today we are going to look at another name of God. Jehovah Shalom translates to "The Lord is Peace."  If you could use some peace in your life today, you might want to check this one out. Click on the link below:
Jehovah Shalom

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The God who fed 5,000 feeds you today.

"Yahweh" or "Jehovah" means, "Lord." Yahweh lets us know that God is the great I AM. God is still working today just as powerfully, in this very moment, as He was when He parted the Red Sea, fed the five-thousand, and calmed the storm. Do you need to know that God is working powerfully today and can work a miracle in your life right here, right now?? To hear more about "Yahweh" click on the link below:


Monday, January 28, 2013

God has met the need to your biggest problem before you had the problem.

This past summer, a bird created a nest in the wreath that hung outside our front door. I was delighted, because it meant that I would get to share the experience with my kids as her babies came into the world. I have always been fascinated by the whole process of birds hatching and being brought into the world. My kids and I kept a close eye on the birds every day and observed some of the things that they were doing. When the birds were very, very little they would open their beaks as wide as they could at every little sound, hoping that food would be on its way, and then chirp incessantly if it wasn't.  We noticed that when we opened the front door, the sound of the door would get them all excited, and they would reach their necks up nice and tall and open their beaks as if food was coming. I actually stopped opening the front door for a short time because I felt so bad about it. As they got bigger, though, they seemed to get more accustomed to the sounds around them, and they became more familiar with what sounds were "food is coming" sounds and what sounds weren't. We also noticed that they started to get more comfortable with the idea that "mom" or "dad" (not sure which) was going to take care of them so they could settle down a little bit. Their sweet little heads poked up every time their mom came swooping over to the nest with food, but then when she left, they would just watch her leave, knowing she would be back again with more food later, rather than chirping incessantly. After a really good feeding, the baby birds would curl around each other in the nest and take a nap. They could rest, knowing that they were provided for.  

In the same way, as we grow and mature in our spiritual walk, we learn to trust the Lord to provide for us what we need as we need it. As He continues to provide day after day the things that we need, we can begin to rest in Him, knowing that our needs will be taken care of in the future. If there is ever a time when you are feeling unsure, you can rest in His promises to take care of you. Watching the birds get taken care of reminded me of Matthew 6:26 which says this: 

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
  •  "Jehovah Jireh" means "The Lord who provides." If you want a reason to praise God, listen to this one. Pastor Tanner explains, "God has met the need to the greatest problem of your life before you totally understand the greatest problem of your life." Such a great sermon!! Click on the link (VNC logo) below:

(pictured above: I was outside when
one of the baby birds was coming out
of the nest to explore the world for
the first time.) I just loved it!! :)
Isn't he precious!?!
Jehovah Jireh

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Comfort for when you are overwhelmed by your problems.

"When we look continually in faith to Jesus, not at our circumstances, we will find a tranquility within, no matter what is happening around us." 

This is a quote that my mother has taped up in her bathroom at home. Every time I pay a visit to her sweet little house in Michigan, I see this, and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on how these words capture two of the greatest treasures of my mother--her genuine peace and her sincere joy in life.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us this:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." KJV

Does that sound beautiful to you?

Maybe that sounds oversimplified? 

Read it again, slower.

Isaiah 26:3:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." KJV

. . . because he trusts in God.

Oswald Chambers wrote a devotional that helps to develop this thought further. In My Utmost for His Highest, he suggests this:
"Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to 'go out' in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to 'go out' through your convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God."

Oswald Chambers gives us a great challenge: to "go out in dependence upon God" in everything we do, putting our trust in God as we go. This is a much more powerful statement when we know WHO the God is that we are referring to. It has been my experience that the more I learn about God, the more I grow to trust Him and the more I want to serve Him out of the love I have for Him. So . . . who is God?

A better question might be, "Who is God to you at this point in your life?" Because the truth is God is so many things and depending on what you are going through you may be feeling like you need Him to be one thing more than another right now. Do you need to know that He is your comforter? How about your strength? Healer? Redeemer? Or maybe you need God to be your provider?

As a mother, my children have different needs at different times. When they fall and scrape their knees, I am their comforter. When they are hungry at lunchtime, I am their provider. When one of my children is disrespectful, I become a disciplinarian. I am always their mother, but that word "mother" can mean lots of different things to my children, in the same way that God is many different things for His children. 

My pastor, Pastor Gene Tanner, did a series last December on the names of God. He described several of the common names that the Bible used for God, besides just "LORD." You may have heard of some of them: Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Rapha, etc. It was very powerful for me and so meaningful to dig deeper into what each of those names means. I needed (and still need) a God who could do each of the things that he was describing. I believe I am not alone in that way.

It is for that reason that I am going to take a week to post some of the sermons that meant so much to me last December. Each sermon is just 20 minutes long, and I really think you will be blessed as you listen to each one.
  • "Adonai" is a great one to start with because it gets you reflecting on the power of God and the fact that God owns everything, has all the resources at His disposal, and therefore, can take care of everyone and everything. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the weight of your problems, this is going to be a great comfort for you. Click on the link below to learn about Adonai: