Tag Archives: fear

Speaking Up Even When You're Afraid

Speaking Up Even When You’re Afraid

Sometimes in life we feel compelled to do difficult things. And by difficult, I mean something we don’t want to do. Something we resist Speaking Up Even When You're Afraiddoing because it goes against our nature, our personality, or our level of comfort. But deep inside, we know we should do it…we must do it.

This difficult thing can be asking for a raise, quitting a job, ending a relationship, pursuing a relationship, standing up to an authority figure, addressing an issue, or simply telling someone the truth.

Most of the challenges we face of this nature have to do with confrontation. Most of us aren’t predisposed to confronting others. It can be intimidating in many respects, but particularly because of the uncertainty. We don’t know how the other party will react. We don’t know how we will react to their reaction. We’re not sure what to say or how to go about it. And ultimately, we fear the worse consequences — rejection, loneliness, embarrassment, or failure.

Honestly, all the aforementioned phobias are possible. But there is a greater consequence than rejection — regret.

What if we do nothing? What if we keep things status quo and don’t rock the boat? Life will go on, but we’ll be uncomfortable. We’ll wonder “what if?” We’ll be weighed down with regret.

In 1 Samuel 3, young Samuel is faced with a similar situation. He’s being raised and trained by his mentor, the high priest Eli, and staying in the tabernacle with him. Samuel hears the voice of God one night — a rare occasion during those times — and God tells him that Eli and all his family are going to be killed because of their sins. Whoa. Try going back to sleep after hearing that. The Bible says the next morning Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision he had (obviously). Imagine what was going through Samuel’s mind: He’s only 12 years old and he has to tell this man who is like his father that he and his family will be wiped out. And you thought you were facing a difficult situation.

After Eli implores (and nearly threatens) him, Samuel reveals the prophecy. Eli doesn’t get angry, he simply replies: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (1 Sam. 3:18).

If God is pressing you to do something or say something that is difficult, I’d go out on a limb and say it’s for the best. He already knows the result and how the other person/persons will respond. It may be rejection or it may be acceptance, either way, it’s not your responsibility. You can’t control others’ reactions; you control your obedience. One simple yet difficult step of courage and confrontation may open the door to your destiny. It did for Samuel. A frightened, preteen boy got the nerve to speak up, prophesying for the first time, and went on to be the first major prophet of Israel.

Is there something God is nudging you to do that you’re scared of? Is there someone you need to confront? Embrace the uncertainty and move forward in faith. No matter what happens, God has your back.

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weakness

Your Greatest Weakness is Your Strength

One thing I love about the Bible is the honesty in which it displays historic figures. No one’s flaws are hidden. Everyone’s life is pretty much laid bare — the good and the bad. And in certain places, the writer shares his own weaknessflaws, like the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians.

“I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor. 3-5

Paul admitted he was in weakness, fear, and much trembling when it came to speaking to the church of Corinth. Essentially, Paul feared public speaking. There are other instances in his letters where he admitted he wasn’t an eloquent orator. It’s odd because I always perceived Paul as a great theologian and preacher who commanded attention and respect when he spoke, but that wasn’t the case.

Public speaking ranks as one of the greatest fears for people. Most of us have suffered from it to some extent, which makes us much like Paul in that sense. Yet God knew Paul was weak in this area and He still called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, an assignment that regularly put him in front of complete strangers to share a radical message none of them had heard before. Way to set up a guy for failure, God.

But God did this regularly, on purpose. Think back to Moses. He tried to explain to God that he couldn’t speak for Him to Pharaoh because he stuttered. It’s not like God was like: “Oh, my bad, I forgot you stuttered, let me find someone else.” He knew speaking was Moses’ weakness and He called him anyway.

Today, we do so much to hide our weaknesses. We focus on what we’re good at and pursue interests in those areas and hone skills pertaining to our strengths. We are caught up in a culture that only displays its best — we retake photos on our phones until we have our best-looking selfie; we search through pics to use our best-looking one as our profile image; we use Instagram to make our sucky photos look professional, all in an attempt to display an image of strength, beauty, and competence to the world. But none of it is true.

I admit, only God and I know my weaknesses. I’m the king of playing it cool, faking it til I make it, and if need be, just plain frontin’. But God, throughout history, takes the opposite approach with us. He doesn’t want any of those weaknesses, blemishes, fears, or things that make us tremble hidden. He calls us into those areas. He pushes us into those areas. He uses us in those areas.

Why?

Paul said it in his letter to the Corinthians: So that anything we accomplish and any life we impact won’t be because of our wisdom or skill, but solely by the power of the Spirit so our faith (and subsequently others’ as well) will be in the power of God, not in our own ability.

Have you been concealing or shying away from a weak area in your life God is nudging you toward? Have you shut your ears to what He’s been saying because of fear? Have you been worrying about what others will think? Fearing failure? God knows what He’s doing. He’s calling you there for a reason — to display His power and glory.

Like Paul, embrace your weakness. It’s the only way to see what the power of the Spirit can do in your life.

 

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nadia's book

Living in Faith Every Day

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “The Past is in the Past So Let It Pass: For Women” by Nadia Atkinson. It’s a compilation of testimonies by 16 women about their journeys in finding Christ.  

“…For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the LORD.’ ”

Jeremiah 39:18 NKJV

Tell me what was your life like before Christ? nadia's book

Before Christ, I lived a life with no direction. I believed that the only person that guided my life was me and those around me. I hung around people who lived a negative lifestyle, and even had those people around my child. I lived a promiscuous and dangerous lifestyle, and at the time, it was fun. I didn’t do drugs, but I allowed myself to be around them and allowed them in my home. I was 19 years old with my own apartment thinking I could do whatever I wanted, never thinking about consequences, or the danger I was putting my daughter in.

What drew you to Christ?

There had come a time when I had hit rock bottom. I was about to be evicted from my home and I needed help and none of the so-called friends that I had around me every day could help me, nor could any of my family members. Everyone had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help me. It was then that I realized that I could only depend on Christ. I don’t remember exactly how it was resolved, but it was from then on I decided I would never put my faith in man again.

What made you decide, the day you were saved, that that was the day to dedicate your life to God?

I became saved when I was young. I attended church on a regular basis due to my mother and stepfather making it a requirement. I said the words and I prayed the prayer, but I never really took it seriously. In my mid-twenties, I was dating a gangbanger who I thought was a great guy but had the bad boy thing going for him that I loved. I never thought that I would ever see that bad boy side of him. One day I decided I was going to check his voicemail on his cell phone, and I did. It was easy because men never use passwords that can’t be guessed. Well I told him I did, and I don’t know what he thought I heard, but there was something on there that he didn’t want me to hear. I confronted him about a girl’s message that was on there, but he didn’t care about her message, he was just angry that I checked his messages. He threatened to kill me, and knowing that he was capable of doing just that, I was scared. He knew where I lived with my daughter and he knew where my family lived. I left my home for about a week. I was staying at my best friend’s house who just so happened to live across the street from a church.

The following Sunday I attended one of the services at that church. I prayed and I cried like I had never prayed and cried before. I promised God that I would change my life if my life was spared in this situation. I dedicated my life to Christ that day and I meant it with my whole heart.  When the service was over, I felt a weight lifted off me, but I wasn’t going home just yet. I went back to my friend’s house and she told me that while I was gone a lady knocked on her door to get help because she was having car trouble. Now my friend lived in an apartment complex, so the lady could have knocked on 10 others doors that were around my friend’s house. My friend welcomed the lady in to make a phone call. Before the lady left, she told my friend I don’t know what’s going on, but know everything is going to be fine, and then she left. Till this day, my friend has never seen the lady ever again. When she told me what happened, I felt like it was confirmation from God that He heard my prayer and my cries. I went home that night and never worried about the situation again.

If you could save someone by telling them one thing God has done for you in your life, what would it be?

God has spared my life in many ways. There are so many things that could have happened in my life due to the lifestyle I was living such as diseases, homelessness, incarceration, and the list goes on. I am disease free, never have been without a roof over my head, and never been incarcerated. Only by the grace of God was I spared, so I take every chance I get to tell someone to go to God and He will see you through.

 

Nadia is a small business owner in NJ who is God-fearing, trustworthy, and a student of the Word of God. She loves reading, writing, praise and worship, food, the beach, learning about our universe, spending time with family, giving advice, and being in love. You can order her book here.

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no fear in love

There’s No Fear in Love

By Kevin Howellno fear in love

Fear has been a common thread in my writing lately. It’s not been on purpose, it’s just what comes out when I sit down in front of the computer.

I guess that says something about what’s deep inside. It’s something my soul is trying to convey to myself and to you. We don’t have time for fear.

No time to dwell on it.

No energy to waste fighting it.

We all know fear can holds us back from doing great things in life. And, what we fear most points to our greatest dreams and desires.

Our focus should be love. Love may not seem as the proper way to combat all your fears, but it can dissolve most.

When we’re focused on love, and living in love, we don’t give thought to fears. We don’t hesitate to do what our soul is stirring us to do. Whether it’s inviting a friend to church, making time for your irritable co-worker, starting a business, buying a house, moving out of the state or country, or simply saying “no” when you always say “yes.”

We fear these things because of our insecurity. It’s not necessarily because the tasks are too great, it’s because our faith is too small.

I don’t mean our belief has to be great in order to overcome fears. Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed can accomplish great things. The faith I’m talking about has more to do with trust. The more trust we have in someone, the more secure we are around him or her.

I realized most of my fears were rooted in insecurity. They were internal. I was afraid to do things because I was afraid to fail and fall flat on my face, so in order to save face, I stayed safe.

But the more secure I became in God’s love, the less I thought about failure. The less I cared about failure. I felt free. Doubts and concerns became minimal.

It’s weird, but something I would consider solely spiritual or theological was so practical, it permeated my entire life.

The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins. It covers a multitude of fears as well. 

Love provides security, ensuring that no matter what you venture to do, someone trustworthy is always there. Love doesn’t minimize the risk associated with fear; it just changes the perspective of it. When we live within God’s love, we see everything through the lens of His loving security.

What people think no longer matters. Our weaknesses no longer matter. Who’s with us and for us means everything.

“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.” 1 John 4:18

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photo courtesy of Crazy Ivory via Compfight Creative Commons

Understanding Grace

By Kevin Howell

grace
photo by Crazy Ivory via Compfight Creative Commons

 

As a young Christian, I struggled with sin. I understood it was part of the process of growing and maturing in God, and though I was no longer a sinner, I would still have to deal with sin for the rest of my life. In fact, I was told that in some way, every day, we all sin. So each night, before I went to bed, I reflected on my day to figure out how and when I sinned, because for sure, I did at some point.

I was sin-conscious, and more than bad habits, human depravity, my own lust, or temptations in the world, that’s why I sinned. Because sin and repentance was on my mind, daily.

There’s a theory in sports, whether shooting a basketball or a pistol, bowling, throwing a baseball or football, that whatever you focus on, that’s where the ball will go. Likewise, when my mind was focused on sin, avoiding sin, and repenting of sin, sin remained in my consciousness. So in spite of efforts to avoid it, I’d always come back to the same sins. Why? Because I was focused on them. I was trying to overcome sin by denying my flesh and building my spirit, based on principles we hear within Christian culture. However, I’ve found that to be ineffective and unbiblical.

I don’t have to try to overcome sin because sin has already been overcome.

My efforts were futile trying to win a battle I was incapable of winning. That’s why Jesus fought it for us already. Grace has taught me to accept the finished work of Christ. Do I still sin? Of course. But I’m no longer looking for it. I don’t try to figure out if and how I sinned every day. The Spirit of God will bring conviction to an area I need to address. I decided to live in grace instead of live in fear of sin.

Grace has become a controversial topic lately. As some people are leery of a hyper-grace message that is accepting of sin. But a true understanding of grace motivates us to live righteously.

“Amazing Grace,” the classic hymn by John Newton, has a verse that illustrates the power of grace:

“T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,

and grace my fears relieved”

Grace teaches us the fear and reverence of God. It gives us understanding of His power, sovereignty, authority, and dominion. It reminds me that I exist, breath, and am not consumed because of grace. Yet at the same time, that same grace relieves me of the fear of sin and its consequences. I don’t have to fear judgment; I don’t have to constantly repent to be accepted. Grace has taken away those fears.

I no longer struggle with sin. Not because I’m perfect, or because I don’t care about how I live. I’ve taken my focus off the negative and put it on the positive. That’s why I’m moving toward grace.

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