Fear.

This post comes from another lesson God has been teaching me through repetition…

First, I think you need to listen to the podcast “Crash the Chatterbox, It Will Happen (Part 3)” from Steven Furtick at Elevation Church.

In Acts 27 Paul is going through a storm and needs to decide “which voice he is going to listen to.” Paul is giving warning on behalf of God. Furtick says, “When you find yourself in a storm, and you will, steer by the Spirit and not by your senses.” He points out how easy it is to steer based on our senses, we do what we feel, we respond based on our feelings. Is this not how we live almost always?

Furtick points out a good distinction between God’s warning and the enemy’s threats:

God will warn you but He will never create worry within you. When God warns you He will give you a specific instruction and it will mobilize you and make you stronger. When the enemy threatens you, he won’t make you stronger, he’ll make your faith weaker. When God instructs you, He’ll give you a specific warning; He’ll show you something, maybe through someone, maybe through a spirit, maybe through His word. And He’ll show you something you need to correct. The enemy will never do that – he’ll just threaten you in a vague way until you can’t even figure out what’s wrong but you just find yourself up at night, worried about things… -Steven Furtick

Furtick points out, “when you ignore God’s warnings you will always suffer loss.” A-to-the-men. I have lived this time and time, and time again. I have heard God’s prompting to move and have ignored Him. And, oh has the loss come.

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Are you allowing the feelings and emotions of fear driving you? When you play scenarios over and over in your mind that are not even yet (or ever will be) real, you are being driven by fear. Where does that get you? I think this fits in a lot with the lies we allow ourselves to believe, like I wrote about the other day. Fear and lies go hand in hand.

So you not only have to fight the lies, you have to fight the fear. Paul says in Acts 27:22, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage,because not one of you will be lost…” So let go of the fear, fight the lies, and take courage. Paul isn’t focused on the storm, he’s focused on the future God put before him and his faith in God – who He is and what He says.

You have to learn to separate out your courage from your conditions. See if your courage is tied to your conditions, when your bank account goes down, your courage goes down with it. If your courage is tied to your conditions, when a certain relationship in your life starts going down, your courage goes down with it…. Even when my conditions are outside my control, my courage is in my control. ‘You’ve been feeding your fears, and now they’re eating you alive! And now you’re surveying your conditions and you’ve lost all hope…’ Sometimes you can’t fix the situation and all you can fix is your focus.

The storm may rage on. Where is your focus? To me, it seems that faith and courage go hand-in-hand.

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What are your fears? How are you starving them?

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

Isaiah 44:8 “Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

Luke 1:74-75 “We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.”

Rest is not laziness

I don’t know how to give you a list of things I love most in any particular order. It is hard for me to rank them. Of course I’d like to say God is always number one, but in my most vulnerable honesty, I know there are times when I put other things before Him.

Anyway, the point of that is to say that one of my most favorite things to do is spend time working my body, hard, at the gym or on the open road and trail. I love riding my bike, running, lifting, spinning, boxing, hot yoga – you name it, I like to at least give it a try. Notice I didn’t list swimming there… Even after almost a year of working it in the pool I have yet to actually enjoy it more than a handful of times.  One of the hardest things I have found for myself over the past 10 years is taking a whole day of rest. Yesterday, I skipped the workout I had planned for the morning to get a little extra snooze-time. So, I thought that I would make this my day of rest for the week (I try to force myself at least one). But in my head, I kept coming up with ideas of little workouts I could throw in between clients today. Well that didn’t work out between clients so I left feeling slightly guilty but trying to remind myself that my body needs rest.

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Thnking about this time of rest led me to think about life in general. I believe we need to take days (in the workplace often known as mental health days) where we relax, catch up on things needing to be done, and give ourselves a little TLC.

Let me make something clear – I am great at being lazy, terrible at taking a rest day. I can sit around and do nothing for hours if I had the opportunity. I like to combine my physical rest days with my mental rest days, but the problem arises that I end up being lazy instead of resting.

There is a difference.

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God calls us to cast our cares upon Him, to rest in His care. I think this means that we are called to give Him our burdens, to take a break from all of life’s demands. I DO NOT believe that means we are to be lazy, not working towards the goal. You can be lazy and not do anything, to assume God will take control and you sit back and relax. That is not what I believe we are called to do when we give over our burdens. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says,

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

I like the way The Message version states 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 states it:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

We keep working, we keep striving towards the goal, we keep up the good fight. The Message version of 1 Timothy 6:12 states,

…Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.

Even in physical rest days some experts suggest light exercise, they don’t say sit on your butt, eat crap, and forget all you trained for. No, you give your body time to heal and prepare for the goal set before you. In the like, a “life rest day” doesn’t mean you just stop and give up, you take time to focus on the goal, collect yourself and arm yourself for the battle.

Keep it up. Take the time you need to give yourself some rest – wear your sweats all day and watch the olympics; take a day off work and run all the errands that have been piling up; watch that show on netflix you are behind on; take a friend out for lunch and talk for hours without an agenda. Take your rest and prepare for the battle that lies before you.

Rest is key.

And so is laughter:

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