What I Learned This Week: Is It Worth It To You To Push Past Your Fears?

That’s what I had to ask myself.  I am extremely comfortable doing what I already know how to do.  It is doing what I’ve never done before that can shatters my nerves.

There is nothing like starting a new business to bring out the loose ends of all of your insecurities.  Mine have started looking like a 1970’s shag rug. I had a yellow and orange one I took from my parents’ house to college with me, so I know of what I speak!

The fear of failure always looms over those of us who have been judged by our performance, and especially for those from whom much has been expected.  If you have good natural skills and talents, you can fake it for a while, and probably even succeed.  However, internally, you are a mess, waiting for the next mistake to crop up and blow all of your hard work out of the water, exposing you for the incompetent fraud you are secretly afraid you may be.

Then there is the fear of failure because we have never succeeded to our own standards.  We expect things to come together quickly, be an overnight success, have everything go our way because we worked hard.  However, that’s not how the world works. Just because we work hard for something we really want doesn’t mean it will happen.  Even if I wanted to be President of the United States, that doesn’t mean it would happen.

For Christians, being successful at the wrong thing at the wrong time and place is still wrong.  The question is “Are we where God said we should be, doing what He said we should do?”  If we are pushing for success in an area that God did not lead us, then we have to ask who we are doing it for.  Most likely, we are doing it for the wrong reasons, such as trying to prove our value to ourselves and others.

On the flip side, even if we are apparently unsuccessful doing the right thing at the right time and place, we are still pleasing to God.  Why?  Because obedience is better than sacrifice. He doesn’t want our offerings that we gathered or created in our own strength and wisdom.  He only wants us to be willing to surrender wholly to His Kingdom plan, even when we don’t know what it is, where it will take us, or what the outcome will be.

And you can be sure that being obedient to His Kingdom plan will make you uber uncomfortable.  He will not keep you in the same place forever. He will push you into areas where you will need to reach out to Him for wisdom, courage, strength and direction.

A healthy Christian is constantly being pushed out of the nest they have built for themselves along their journey with God.  He is using those challenges and struggles to chisel off those things that are unlike Christ and which get between unconditional love for and surrender to Him.  If you haven’t done something new or uncomfortable, you need to be worried.  You can’t grow by staying in the same place doing the same things.

I hate the thought that I may be acting pushy.  So telling people about what I offer, even if I know it is the answer to their problem, and I have made it affordable enough for anyone to access (you can’t get better than free), is extremely hard.  My insecurities say to me, “No one is going to want to work with you.  You are going to look like a fool – a pushy fool.”

So I spit in fear’s face and said, “I’m going to do it anyway!”  I created a video that was completely me, held my breath, and posted it on my Facebook pages.  And guess what?  I didn’t die.  I realized that was a limitation I was placing on myself, and I could remove that limitation if I wanted to do so.  So I did.  And I had several women show interest in working with me.

The bottom line was that I finally determined that everything I had to gain from facing my fears was worth the leap into the unknown.  So I want you to ask yourself what you are missing by giving in to your fears?  Write or draw it out.  Make it real to yourself. Make yourself salivate over having it.  Make yourself miserable about not having it – so miserable that you will finally push past your fears and go for it.

If God is calling you somewhere to do something and you obey, He will consider you a success no matter what the apparent outcome is.  Being in the center of God’s will is the most important thing in your life.  It is where you will always find the peace in the middle of the storm, and supernatural power that will flow through you to accomplish whatever He asks of you.  What is He asking of you?  Push through your fears and DO IT!

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

Peace, Peace, Wonderful (Elusive) Peace

When all is said and done, what we want is peace. No more struggle, no more striving, no more feeling broken, no more hurting, no more doubting, no more anything – we have everything we need and can finally rest.  We want to relax and let go and not worry or fear. Peace is everything.
Luckily for Christians, Jesus can actually give us peace that is not dependent upon circumstances or our current status. He doesn’t give as the world does, which is transitory peace. He gives lasting peace in the midst of troubles and despite fear.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus knew that in this world there will always be trouble, disturbances of the peace, unfulfilled longings and desires, and sometimes unmet needs. But He put His Spirit in Christians, and peace is a fruit of the Spirit. It is always available for us to tap into, as long as we are abiding in the vine and connected to His life. So why don’t we access and live in this peace?
John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 John 5:4
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Jesus’s peace can be accessed only by faith.  Our simple faith that God is still in control, that God is good, and that His will still will be done in our lives gives us access into that peace.  It isn’t an intelligence or a mind thing, like you talk yourself down out of panic mode. No, faith gives us access to ALL the fruit of the Spirit, including peace.
Luke 7:50
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 8:48
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
When we are robbed of our peace, and we seem lost in the world and cannot find our way, when the future seems dark and scary, and we are grasping all around to find something to hold on to that will anchor us, or at least make us feel less afraid for a while, all it takes to break that moment is one true, small statement of faith.
“You are good, God.”
“I believe in You, God.”
“I trust You, God.”
“I know You love me, God.”
It is not magic, and it is not mind control.  It is the supernatural effect of faith on a war-torn, embattled soul.  When we wander away in doubt, or simply forget to trust in Him, we cut ourselves off from the life-giving flow of God’s Spirit that enables the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in our life.
You don’t have to have all the answers, or find all the solutions to the endless array of problems in your life. You simply need to meet each episode with a small statement of faith, and CLING to it with all your might. Say it over and over again, until you believe it, and use the sword of God’s Word as an offensive as well as a defensive weapon against the enemy’s attack on your faith.
Peace can be had, but it cannot be stored – like manna, that went bad if you didn’t eat it that day (or on the Sabbath).  You only get peace in the present, not enough for the future. But His peace is enough for the moment to carry you through.

Compassionate, Gracious and Slow To Anger

Exo 34:6-7
6 Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is slow to anger, faithful to keep His promises, forgiving of our wrongdoing, rebellion and sin? He has compassion on us, even when we mess up. He is gracious, providing us with undeserved favor and empowerment. This is the message He speaks to the redeemed, those who have acknowledged their sin and have asked for forgiveness.

However, often we think of God’s attitude toward us as being harsh and punishing, remembering our sin to several generations, but that is not accurate. That is what Satan would like you to believe, but it is not true in our case. God forgives as soon as we ask, and chooses not to remember our sins anymore. He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, because we are covered in the atoning shed blood of Jesus. The harshness is reserved for the unrepented sin of non-believers.

So when you feel condemnation, or think that God doesn’t like you, remember that it is a trick and a lie from Satan. Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT all children of God, and we are not all treated the same. You have to be born again through faith to be a child of God; everyone else is God’s CREATION, not His child.

As His child, He treats you with compassion and graciousness, loving-kindness and long-suffering. No matter how far you feel you have wandered away from God, He is ALWAYS close enough to hear you ask for forgiveness and receive you with open arms, just as the father of the Prodigal son did. He is always on your side, and always rooting for you to grow and mature in your walk with Him.

Plainly put, He loves you and wants to be close to you at all times. Don’t let Satan ever make you think otherwise.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Where Our Passionate Desires Come From

Gal 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self- control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The Greek word for passions here means experiences we have suffered that result in affections of the mind. It also means passionate desires, so the experiences we have endured affect our minds and result in passionate desires for things. It makes me think about how many of us have had experiences of grief and loss in our life which have resulted in our obsession with finding and holding onto something which will make us feel better. Of course, some of us have moved to the other end of the spectrum and given up hope of ever acquiring whatever we think will fix things, so the passion is gone. But beneath that hopelessness remains that desire to get our “fix”.

I never really thought about where passions and lusts come from, other than the book of James where it says our problem is that we want things we can’t have. But do our “passions” stem from negative experiences we have lived through, and from which we are still somehow trying to escape? Are passions man-made attempts to get something to make us feel better?

Then we are told to compare our passions/affections/lusts to the fruit of the Spirit. I used to think this passage was meant to show us how depraved our desires were compared to the fruit, but now I am not so sure. Maybe it is meant to show us the difference in the origins of our passionate desires compared to the fruit.

Where does the fruit of the spirit come from? The Spirit of God. How do we get it? Solely by abiding in the vine, staying connected to Jesus by faith and through the indwelling of His Spirit in us. When we get what we need by remaining in Him, we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.

Where do the works of the flesh come from? The flesh responding to it’s inability to get what it thinks it needs. It has experienced loss and it cannot obtain what is wants, and that affects the mind negatively, reacting with sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and anything similar (vs. 19-20).

When we are focused on what we think we have missed but deserve to have, we do whatever we can to GET for ourselves. We are selfishly concerned with ourselves. But when we feel we have our needs met, we can focus on GIVING to others unselfishly. The works of the flesh come from us fighting with others to meet our own perceived needs. The fruit of the Spirit comes from us accepting from Christ whatever He offers to us as a means of meeting our needs so we are free to give to others. These are two very different outlooks!

So if you feel you are caught in the grip of passions, ask yourself if you are trying to meet your own needs instead of trusting Christ to meet them. Tell Him You want to rely upon and rest in His provisions for your life, and ask Him to show you how to stop fighting for what only He can give.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Even John The Baptist Doubted!

Mat 11:2-3
2 Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples
3 and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another?

When John was in prison, he started to doubt if Jesus was the Christ. John the Baptist, mind you! He was the one who went out and declared that Jesus was the Messiah. He was filled with the Holy Spirit while in Elizabeth’s womb when the pregnant Mary met with her. He saw the dove alight on Jesus and heard the Father announce that Jesus was His well-beloved Son. Yet JOHN DOUBTED!

When he was in prison, his thoughts and emotions preyed on him, just like they would have with us. He had been a man of great discipline, with his locusts and honey. He had faithfully served the Lord, obeyed His commands, and had spoken prophetically under His orders. Yet JOHN DOUBTED!

This encourages me to know that even great men of God, disciplined prophets with vision and courage, have doubted about Jesus. When we are trapped in the prison of circumstances that are outside of our control, our faith may waiver as did John’s. But John was still praised by Jesus after His death.

I am comforted to know that God does not demand perfection in my beliefs, thoughts or actions in this life, and that my doubts don’t estrange me from Him.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

How Is Your Peace?

I was researching the word peace in Jer. 29:11, and found it to be “shalom”. I read up on it and found that in Israel today, they have a greeting that consists of saying, “How is your peace?” That really hit home with me. How is MY peace?

Several other meanings for shalom include in tranquillity, at ease and unconcerned. Hmmmmmm, I spend my days and nights being concerned about everything and trying to figure out how to handle it all. All that thinking makes me NOT at ease, or tranquil. What did Jesus say about not being concerned about what we will eat or drink or wear? No, this worry robs me of peace.

It also signifies a state in which someone can feel at ease, comfortable with another person. How many of us are no longer comfortable with ourselves, much less at ease with others? The isolation which depression brings cuts us off from others, leaving us feeling like there is something wrong with us, so we feel uncomfortable being with others. Plus, the stigma of depression in the church makes us feel even more uncomfortable in our own skin, affecting our ability to feel peace.

Shalom also refers to harmonius relationships. It is hard to experience harmonious relationships when you are scared to death of being around people. Plus, when we have relational problems at work or at home, that steals our peace as well.

Shalom can also refer to our welfare. How many of us deal with medical-related issues that make us feel less than whole? Constant pain as a companion can make us feel emotionally and mentally crippled as well, and without a break in the pain, it is hard to relax and be at ease.

Shalem is the Hebrew verb for peace, meaning to be complete, be sound. How many of us feel broken and incomplete, like people and circumstances have left us with holes in our souls and spirit? How can we feel whole when we can’t seem to pull ourselves together to get out of bed, or leave the house, or spend time with others?

Yet the covenant God has made with believers is a covenant of peace, prophesied all the way back to Isaiah. Our Messiah is a Prince of Peace. He has promised us peace, but not as the world gives. His peace that He gives passes all understanding, because it comes from trusting in Him.

That is how we can be unconcerned for the things we think we must scramble to obtain in order to survive, because we rest in the fact that He says He will provide them for us because of our faith in Him (not just because of our need for them). Our peace can come from our harmonious relationship with Him, instead of from relationships with others (although we need to establish and work on human relationships). We can have peace also through the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing God can bring for our welfare.

Finally, our completeness can come from being IN Him and He being in us. Everything we are not, He is – through His Spirit in us. We are more than just the sum of our broken parts – we are vessels of the Holy Spirit who fills us and fills those holes in our souls.

I want to experience peace, a lack of strife and struggling, harmonious relationships, unconcerned for things I have no control over and for which Jesus has promised to provide. I want to feel whole and unbroken, without emotional, mental and physical pain, and I will need to receive that by faith directly from Him. Peace will only come when I am in a completely trusting relationship with Him.

So, how is YOUR peace?

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

There Is Rest In God’s Presence

Exo 33:14
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

I hate driving in downtown Atlanta. It has a lot of one way streets. Take a wrong turn, and you could be wandering through the maze of streets for what seems like forever.

I used to get sick at the thought of going there, panicked because I didn’t know where I was going. But THEN God said “Let there be GPS”, and it was good! All of a sudden, I had someone with me who knew exactly where to go and when to turn, and this machine gave me true rest. Why? Because I was no longer alone and trying to figure it all out by myself.

So much of our stress in life is caused by being in situations where we have no control and no idea how things will turn out. The unknown freaks us out more than we consciously acknowledge. Imagine knowing that someone else who knows the future and also knows where you are to go and what you are to do accompanies you everywhere. They may sit in the driver’s seat silently while you whine and cry, but they still get you where you need to be, and later you realize you made a fuss unnecessarily.

How much of our life do we spend as if God is our Co-pilot, when in reality, He should be the one flying the plane? If I ride in the car with my husband and I don’t know how to get where we’re going, that doesn’t freak me out. I trust that he is capable of getting me where I am going. Why don’t I do that with God?

One day, I hope I evolve to the point where I am not worrying about my clothes or food or bills, but enjoy the here and now with which He has blessed me. I want to be able to rest in His presence right now, where I am. I want to be able to let go of my tight grip on my demands for the future, which essentially leaves my hands too full to receive the blessings of today. However, I can only do this if I remember He is always with me.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

I Am Not Content – I Am Fat

1Ti 6:6-8
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain: 7 for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; 8 but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.

Phi 4:11-13
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.

It is a gray day today, a day when I finally had the guts to step on the scale and see what 3 weeks of binging on the weekends has done to me. My hard fought for size 16s are getting too right, and I don’t want to have to buy bigger clothes again. My knees are hurting, but I need to go to the gym to get this lately added weight off, since I am afraid to go and swim in the lake after my snake scare.

It is very hard to be content today, when I feel bloated and fat, and I know I must pay for my food sins with eating only raw vegetable and exercising on knees that hurt. I have that awful feeling that always eats at me that I could get in trouble at any minute for something I didn’t know I did wrong. I am edgy and nervous and experiencing that sinking feeling I get when the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting smaller and smaller, further away.

I know that whenever I deal with my weight, I get low. Not being able to lose it makes me crazy. I just want to cut it all off and start over, but it isn’t that simple. At 48, I fight just to be a size 16. I was frustrated at not being smaller, but right now, I just want to get back to it. Icky, icky, icky! That’s how I feel today.

I know I should be content no matter what size I am, and if I have nothing to eat, I should be able to cope with that as well. Is it my impatience, that I want it NOW? I want to be at least 15 pounds lighter, and that will still leave me 30 pounds left to lose. My goals just seem so far away today, and the things I have in the pipeline, I am not looking forward to.

God, I ask You to help me get my perspective right, and that I have the rest of my life to lose this weight. Help me have more self-control when my husband and I eat together. Help me to see the blue sky that I know is hidden right behind the clouds. Help me be content in this state of fatness, but give me the power and longterm discipline to lose the weight.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

God’s Plan For Our Problems

Rom 8:26-39
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God knew from the beginning that we would have problems stemming from internal and external causes. He put inside us the Holy Spirit who is intended to translate our groans into prayers to God in times when speech and strength fail us. When we don’t have a clue what is wrong or what to pray, the Spirit is praying on our behalf to move God into action.

Whatever we are going through will somehow work out both for His glory and praise and for our benefit in that He will use it to conform us into His image. No experience is wasted, but used in His plan. We will be glorified, which means be endued with all of Jesus’ characteristics, which are God’s qualities.

No matter what is going on, God loves us and is for us. Nothing, no experience or person or situation or emotion can separate you from God, because His Holy Spirit lives in you, interceding on your behalf and attempting to quietly lead you. Any thought you hear in your head to the contrary is straight from the pit of hell!

Furthermore, any condemnation you feel NEVER comes from God. He lives to save and reconcile us to Himself, not alienate us from Him. He will convict us of wrong-doing by speaking to us quietly about our sin. Meanwhile, Satan piggybacks onto God’s Word of conviction to us and then attacks who we are (not the sin). That’s how you can tell who is originating the thoughts you hear in your head.

When you feel He is far from you, read this scripture aloud to yourself:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate ME from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

What’s The Use?

“What’s the use?” We’ve all had those days when we ask that rhetorical question of ourselves in the throes of despair. Sometimes the thought occurs when we wake up in the morning and cannot find a an enjoyable reason to get out of bed. At other times, it is said after yet another disappointment. Most days, I would say it when I was feeling like I was in the movie “Groundhog Day” and every day looked like the previous day with no hope for change.

For me, it was a sign that I felt my life had no purpose, or at least no purpose that brought me joy. I felt that I had failed God on the big stuff, by not wanting to read scriptures or pray, so how could I expect Him to entrust me with anything purposeful? Yet without purpose, I didn’t have a reason to get out of bed.

So what could I find to give me purpose that would put me back on the road to pleasing God? I was already overwhelmed by all the Christian “to do list” items I knew I wasn’t doing, so it would have to be something small, simple and easy to remember all day long – a motto or mantra, so to say. I needed to find the least common denominator for what He expects from me.

“Whether we eat or drink, or whatever, we do, we do it all to the glory of God.” That was pretty all-encompassing. So what does it mean to bring Him glory? Showing all His attributes, what He is like – in other words, to show the world Jesus.

Since Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, and God’s ongoing general purpose for our lives is to be conformed into Jesus’ image, and Jesus said the most important thing is to love God and love others, then our main goal in our actions is to love others. Sometimes that means saying or doing something loving to someone; sometimes it means keeping our mouths shut and not saying or doing things we want to say or do, because they would not really be done or said in love.

For the Christian, we are to live by faith in God, believing that He exists and rewards those that diligently seek him (although there are seasons where we can’t seem to find any earthly or emotional rewards). We walk by faith in what He has said, not by the things we see with our eyes. If we can get through a day still believing that He exists and is good, regardless of the situation, consider your day a success. And if we get through a day where we have shown God’s love for others in our words or deeds, by either listening or speaking or acting, then we have had a successful day.

So what’s the use of trying again? Because you are still here, so God still has a plan and a purpose for you, whether you feel like it or not, or want Him to or not. Do you still have an inkling of a desire to please Him? Then don’t make it so hard for yourself. Walk and don’t faint today, choose to believe that God IS here and He is good, and love someone today with the love of Christ. If you can do those things, you will have achieved God’s purpose for yourself today.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com