Fellow Soldiers

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27)

I’ve often forgotten about my fellow soldiers when engaging in my battle with anxiety. I forget that Christ is OUR commander (Col. 1:18), and that I have a common bond with my brothers and sisters in Christ as we seek to live in obedience and enjoy His presence with us. We have the same hope (Eph. 4:4). 

An image the apostles Paul and Peter both use is being a stone in God’s temple, built on the foundation of Christ. (Eph. 2:19-22). But we aren’t inanimate stones. We are LIVING stones who are also priests or intercessors– for our children, unbelievers, and our siblings in Christ (1 Pet. 2:5)

And if those images weren’t intimate enough, Paul also calls believers a body (Col 1:18, 2:19, 3:15, Eph. 4:15-16, 1 Cor. 12). When my daughter dropped the broom on my toe, the pain made my whole body cry out. If my toe weren’t connected to my body, only my toe would feel the pain. But my toe also wouldn’t be any use. Here’s what the Lord has shown me through meditating on these passages:

-It’s my responsibility to ask my husband and friends to pray with me out loud and/or share verses that point me back to who God is when I am feeling anxious. (And if they’re not with you, you can tell them how to swipe up on the microphone icon on WhatsApp so they don’t have to constantly hold down the button to record a prayer for you.) 

-Participate in Sunday morning worship and commit to a weekly Bible study or small group. Ask the members of your group to help keep you accountable by asking how your anxiety has been. Volunteer the information if they don’t ask. Choose one person to check in with weekly.

-Pray and ask God for help in the presence of your children or others you live with. 

Which of these Scriptures will you jot down to memorize? What is one way you’re going to invite others into your battle? 

Next week, I’ll share how asking for help enables you to focus on others and minister to their needs. 

When You Wake During the Night

There are times I wake up during the night feeling anxious, sometimes even being jolted awake by a nightmare. You can check out my previous posts for the foundation the Lord has been building up in my heart as I’ve been able to form more patterns of remembering His sovereign care, infinite wisdom, and unconditional love, but today I’ll share some ideas for the nighttime (or some daytime patterns that influence my sleep at night).

  • Listen through the book of Psalms on Bible.is or another audio Bible and echo the words out loud. Write down images you can picture at night–Jesus being the Good Shepherd and you His little lamb, Jesus being the Light filling your life with His kingdom light, God being a rock of refuge, holding you with His Everlasting arms, etc.

  • Start thanking God for as many things as you can think of as you reflect on what happened the previous day. Thank Him for the ways He helped you to be obedient and faithful. 

  • Listen to worship songs or hymns and sing along (or whisper the words at night). Pick a couple hymns to memorize, like “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” or “Blessed Assurance.”

  • Picture yourself as a child, walking up to God’s rocking-chair throne as He reaches down and sets you on His lap. If you are feeling anxious about someone else, picture yourself taking them by the hand and leading them to God’s rocking-chair throne. As you pray for them, imagine both of you sitting on His lap together. 

  • Write out some Scriptures and tape them in front of your toilet. Believe me, you’ll look at them! Say them out loud quickly over and over until you’ve memorized them so you can quote them during the night. (Psalm 34:8, 55:22, 62:1-2,8, 107:1, 118:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:9, Isaiah 43, Romans 8, Philippians 4:6-9)

Which one of these things are you going to try this week?

Next week, I’ll share about inviting others to help you engage in this battle.

New Resources!

Friends, I’m so excited to share with you some of the resources I’ve recently discovered (or been reminded of) in my walk with Jesus. You can find the rest of the resources I love here.

Trusting God

Why is it easier to obey God than to trust Him?
Because obeying God makes sense to us. In most cases, His laws appear reasonable and wise, and even when we don’t want to obey them, we usually concede that they are good for us. But the circumstances we find ourselves in often defy explanation. Before long, we begin to doubt God’s concern for us or His control over our lives. We ask, “Why is God allowing this?” or “What have I done wrong?”

God has used this book so powerfully in my life to equip me in the battle with anxiety. You can read more here.

The Valley of Vision–free

This is a collection of puritan prayers and devotions. Don’t let the cover turn you off. It is filled with scripturally and theologically rich prayers to worship and enjoy God. It’s often been a great starting place to help me worship God and then talk to Him about what’s on my mind and heart. 

“This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.”

You can read the prayers for free here, but I’m grateful for my hardcopy to highlight and meditate on. 

Every Moment Holy

“EVERY MOMENT HOLY is a book of liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life–liturgies such as “A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends” or “A Liturgy for Laundering” or “A Liturgy for the First Hearthfire of the Season.” These are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose even when, especially when, we are too busy or too caught up in our busyness to notice.”

This is such a beautiful guide for learning how to see every part of our lives as a way to meet the Lord. (And McKelvey’s words are so well-chosen and biblical.) I’m hopeful that the less-expensive paperback version will be released soon, but you can find the hardcover version now. 

Fundamentals of the Faith

“If you are a new believer or know someone who is, Fundamentals of the Faith is the perfect resource for establishing a solid biblical foundation for the Christian life.” 

This is an excellent discipleship material! It is in a workbook format with links to audio sermons related to each topic. 

Prayercast (free)

Not sure how to pray for the needs of the world? This is an incredible resource of 4-5 minute videos (from hundreds of places around the world), leading you in how to pray for them.

The Bible Project videos (free)

Their goal: To help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.

I can’t recommend these short videos enough. There are videos giving the historical background, themes, and outline of each book of the Bible along with illustrations, and also videos about themes throughout Scripture. Just watch one. You’ll be hooked.

Songs for Saplings (Free)

songsforsaplings.com_SFS_ABC_762b81c9-7a66-4f08-b21f-c857ca31fb9a_large

“Our mission is to equip the Church worldwide with rich, Biblical music to help children learn their faith through song.” 

I can’t get these little songs out of my head, and am so excited for my children to grow up hearing (and memorizing) these Bible verses set to music. She also has a series of albums teaching the Catechism for Young People through song. 

Trusting God

Has it been more difficult for you to trust God than to obey Him? It is for me.

God’s Word says He is completely sovereign, infinite in wisdom, and perfect in love. 

According to Jerry Bridges in his book “Trusting God,” 
When we fail to trust God, we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness. . . 

God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about. 

Is it a coincidence that Peter wrote about humility and the devil’s schemes as he called the believers to cast their anxieties on God? 

1 Peter 5:6-8 says:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 

It’s a lot easier to submit to God’s hand when I believe the truth Bridges wrote, that my “suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good” (Rom 8:28). Satan wants nothing more than for me to doubt God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love, because it keeps me from going to my Father and leading others to do the same. 

My pastor has reminded me that faithfulness is not the absence of any feelings of concern, but obediently engaging the Enemy. So what are you anxious about right now? Will you tell God how you feel and then join with the Spirit by asking for faith to believe in God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love working all things together for His glory and to make you more like Christ? 

I’ll share more in the next post about some practices that have helped me engage the battle, but for now, would you consider getting Trusting God by Jerry Bridges? He will lead you all over Scripture to confirm these truths that can be so hard to believe.

Battling Anxiety

Since anxiety is a battle where I’ve been learning how to obediently engage the Enemy, I thought over the next few posts, I’d share some thoughts and practices God has used to help me not give up.

Philippians 4:6-9 says:

“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.”

  1. We are to pray about everything (with specific requests and with thanksgiving).
  2. Think about what is true, noble, right, pure . . . 
  3. Live in obedience by the Spirit’s enabling.

Because emotions are reflections of what I believe to be true, two questions have been immensely helpful for me:

How is Christ inviting me to think about this situation?

What does obedience look like in this situation? 

The feeling doesn’t have to change right away if I am seeking to be obedient, but I can also look forward to God’s commitment to providing me with His peace. 

In the next post, I’ll share what some of this has looked like when I wake up during the night feeling anxious. 

Cookies With Jesus

How do I live in unselfishness and humility, considering the interests of others? How does my own physical and mental capacity fit into all this? How do I find enjoyment in the toil and ways God richly provides? How do I walk this life’s path in fullness of joy in His presence, with His easy yoke and light burden, and do everything for His glory? When I’ve tried to control my schedule and the people in it, I’ve felt like these things are impossible, that I’ll never have enough time to do His will. 

One picture God brought to mind was thinking of my time like a batch of chocolate chip cookies. If I ate the whole batch myself, I would feel sick. If I gave away all the cookies and let someone else lick out the bowl, I would feel sad. Instead, one morning I might get to eat one cookie alone with Jesus and then share the rest with my kids and husband. Another morning I might get to eat two or three with God. Some days the cookies will be pretty much all given to my children. Other days I might get to share a couple cookies with just my husband. Sometimes, our whole family will eat them together, and other times I’ll leave my husband and kids to enjoy the cookies with each other so that I can bring cookies to someone else. And some evenings, I might take a cookie into my room and shut the door, so that when I’m finished, I can re-enter family life with the pleasure lingering on my tongue.

Sometimes, I will eat too many cookies and feel sick. But that’s why Jesus came, to redeem my sins and mistakes and carry His work in my life to completion. Then the cookies shared with Him will last forever. So let’s keep baking! (Phil. 1:6, 2:3-8, Ecc. 2:24, Ps. 16:11, 1 Tim. 6:17, Matt. 11:28-30, Col. 3:17)

His Pastures

How do I do the good works God has prepared for me to do in this pandemic season? How do I know if I’m doing the right things, when others seem to be on such different adventures? My holy adventure right now is caring for my three children in the four walls of this home, which doesn’t seem like much of an adventure, or even a path leading somewhere. 

God gently helped me to think of my seasons as a pasture, with His sovereign care and protection and the principles from His Word being the fence. There’s not one path inside the fence, and He is the One who carries me into a different pasture when He wants to. I am safe to make choices in this pasture and laugh and enjoy the husband sheep and three little lambs in the pasture with me. 

Some sheep do lots of running and jumping in their pasture, and some do lots of drinking water and resting. He doesn’t love the active sheep more than the resting ones, and I don’t have to be afraid for sheep from other pastures to see my life in this pasture. 

Will you trust Him to fill you with His Spirit’s strength to do the things He’s called you to do in the pasture He has you in today? And that the rhythm of resting and working is beautiful to Him? 

I’ve had to repent of the lie that working is always more pleasing to Him than resting. I’ve had to repent of wanting to be in complete control of where my husband sheep and little lambs go in our pasture and what they do. And Jesus has given me the reminder of His role as my Good Shepherd leading me, interceding for me (whether I’m working or resting), and that He delights to give me the freedom to lay in the grass, looking up at the sky He made.

Christ’s World

As we wake each morning with the reality of the coronavirus, what reality should also fill our minds? This is Christ’s world. As Jonathan Edwards put it, “The rising and setting of the sun is a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ, the true light of the world.” He is victorious. His yoke, His way is light as we compare it to the weight of glory that is coming for those who are in Christ. A way that trusts Him without having to understand it all, leaning on Him as He makes our paths straight. According to Michael Reeves, “we most honor the Father by sharing his own everlasting delight in his Son.” As these realities capture our thoughts, we will be able to share this truth with the sick, the healthy, and the fearful. Will you take a moment to remember and worship this Christ?