Monday, October 14, 2019

Our God is an Awesome God

One of the gentlemen that I work with has a thing. He won’t use the word “awesome” to describe anything other than God. His explained to me that nothing is more AWESOME than our GOD, therefore we shouldn’t use that to describe anything else.

Now, he is part of an older generation. A generation that wasn’t raised with the awesome of Bill & Ted, but this struck me. I find it impressive that anyone has a particular word reserved for God. It could be so many different things. Almighty, Awesome, Incredible. Or even Father.

But honestly, every time I hear God is awesome, all I can think about is the song.

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.  
- Deuteronomy 7:21

Moses is standing on the edge of the Promised Land discussing the covenant between the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, and God. At the beginning of the chapter, he is discussing all of the nations they will overcome and what to do once the task is accomplished.

So, how do we take/apply this in today’s age? I personally believe it almost aligns directly to our lives. God is still awesome. He is still helping us defeat enemies. Large, intimidating, and completely outnumbering us enemies. And we still have a covenant with God. This time through Jesus.

Challenge: Identify some of your enemies. These shouldn’t be people. These could be a variety. Depression. Anxiety. Addiction. Self-Harm. Eating Disorders. Toxic Relationships. Whatever it is. Identify them and write them down. Then read this again. Then read it again. Then read it one more time.

Now, tear that piece of paper to shreds. Throw it away. Because it doesn’t matter what you call your enemy, you have a great and awesome God that is backing you all the way. Sometimes you will fail. Everyone does. Hey, even Moses failed. A few times actually. And God chose him to lead His people out of Egypt.

If you trust and depend on God, He will never let the enemy win. You might get beat up a little. You might stubble and fall. You might loose sight of what’s most important, because WE ALL DO! But you don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on any of us. We shouldn’t either.

In Deuteronomy, they are about to go to battle. Actual battle. And God is letting them know that he is going to be with them every step of the way, because they are His people. You are God’s people. You are a chosen one now. So KNOW that your awesome God will protect you the same way He protected Israel.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mind Set

I was looking back at my Facebook memories today and I saw something pretty awesome. I had posted a verse that was really speaking to me at that time in my life. Nine years ago, I posted this:

“Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:2

Then today, my Bible app gave me this for my verse of the day:

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” - Romans 8:6

This world is not made for us. Being a Christian, you know that there is life beyond this earthly life. These verses are testaments to this. Because we are not meant for this world, we are not meant to conform to what the world says is best for us. We are to be molded and formed by God.

Setting our minds on the Spirit and Godly things gives life, but also peace.

I have struggled many times in my life with finding peace. The worst part is that my name is Erin. It comes from the Ancient Greek word meaning peace.

This time we are talking about inner peace. I am a huge worrier. I think most people are. I worry about how I’m going to pay to fix the car. I worry about hurting myself (constantly). I worry about the future. I worry about every mistake that I have ever made (especially at night when I’m trying to sleep). So knowing this about myself (another way I am prone to depression and anxiety), I have to know what to do to calm my mind.

When we focus on the Spirit and God, we learn more and more about how amazing our God is. We learn how much God has waiting for us beyond this life. We learn about His love for us. We learn how to love others better. We learn to let things go, because when we have asked for forgiveness, God has forgiven us. We learn that God’s forgiveness is so much bigger than any mistake we have ever made.

Now, this isn’t easy. For example, I am not a flexible person. If I want to be able to touch my toes or kick above my hear, I have to stretch every day, right? I can’t just wake up and do this without seriously injuring myself (which you know I’m terrified of doing). Take this the same way. Just because you read one verse today, doesn’t mean that you are effortlessly going to focus your mind, heart, and soul on God all the time.

This is going to take time. This is going to be a process. Practice everyday. You will fail. I know you have heard that from me already. Failure is good. You recognize the failure (very important) and ask for forgiveness. God forgives and you find peace.

I would challenge you today, read just one verse a day this week. Just one. Start challenging your mind so that you can find peace and true inner joy. Most Bible apps have daily devotionals with notifications to help keep you on track. Just read a verse a day. That’s how it starts. It will get easier. It will become habit. As Nike puts it “Just Do It!”

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Practice Makes Perfect

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

There are so many ways that a person can learn to calm their minds. In many ways they are all similar. Take your focus off of whatever is stressing you out and focus on clearing your mind or focus on something positive.

As someone who tries to practice the whole clearing your mind thing, it’s not easy. It gets easier. And I think this is a good practice. However, the second part is what is so crucial. We as Christians, get to take this to the next level. We get to lay all of those worries at the feet of our Lord. He gets to do the worrying.

Now I know this isn’t easy. You’re probably thinking, “sure, Erin, let me just jump right on it and stop worrying all the time. I’ll get right on that. No worrying. Yep. Not doing it!” All the while you are worrying your butt right off.

I didn’t say this was going to be easy. I didn’t even say that I was good at it. This is something that grows over time. Why do you think it is called a practice? Practice makes perfect. This is something that will not happen overnight. It takes a grateful heart and a clear mind to really move forward in life and in the love of God.

When we worry, we are putting those concerns before God. We are saying they are more important than God. We are telling God that those problems are bigger than He is. Obviously, that isn’t anyone’s intention, but it is what’s happening.

So how does one put this verse into practice. PRACTICE is how. Everyday you wake up and there are going to be things that you do. Things that are just second nature. You’ve been doing them forever. Brushing your teeth, making your bed, washing the dishes, or taking a shower. Things you just do. Prayer should be like that. It’s just something you do everyday. It’s something that comes naturally.

I like to have a little devotional time during the day. I include a quiet time where I practice keeping my mind clear of anything that is trying to choke out my good intentions for the day. This is personally when I do my best thinking. I often end up writing in my journal everything that comes into my head. (Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.) I use this as my prayer to God.

"God, this is what I’m worrying about today. I don’t know how I’m going to make it, but I know that You are keeping a very close eye on the situation. I know that You are protecting me though my dark hours. I leave my concerns in Your Almighty Hands and now am able to focus on all the good You have created around me and in me. Thank You for always watching over me and my concerns. Thank You for always bringing me through my struggles. I am here to be Your child, Your messenger, and Your light until I am home with You. Please give me the strength to always see what good You have for me and the love You have given to me. Thank You."

This life is hard and none of us make it out alive. The joy that God gives us comes from within. Will any of us be able to do this perfectly all the time? NO. But through the practice of true reliance on God and all that He does for us, we find joy and peace.

This week, I challenge you to hand one, just ONE concern to God. It can be tiny. Every time you find yourself worrying over it, take a moment and pray. I would encourage you to write it down somewhere. Then put it right out of your mind ASAP! We know that God is taking care of it. He doesn’t need us to micromanage the King of EVERYTHING! So after your prayer, focus on the next part of your day. Really focus on the good that God is working in you and around you.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

How Do You Remember Who Your Backup Is?

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  - Jeremiah 29:11  ESV

This was a verse I heard so much in my youth. It was even the verse of our summer church camp the year after I attempted suicide. This had been my verse for a long time. It is a great way for me to ground myself when the weight of the world is ready to crush me.

In our current society, we are bombarded by so much information. What we should look like, how we should dress, what we should think, how we should speak; and it’s exhausting. It is easy to understand how all of these pressures along with work, school, bullies, kids, family and significant other dynamics can cause anyone to want to pull their hair out.

This is the moment. This is it. When I am teetering on the edge of the abyss of my mental and emotional sanity that I have an out. This is when I pull out one of my many verses (usually this one) and remind myself to whom I belong. I am a child of the Most High God. In Him, I have HOPE and a FUTURE. Not only am I not walking this path alone, but I am walking it hand in hand with The Creator. The One that designed me to be exactly who I am. Anxiety, depression and all. Though a work in progress, I am unique and precious. Just like you. And though we are broken, God, the Great Designer, uses imperfect people for perfect purpose all the time!

You are so much more important than you can possibly realize. And while things are not always easy. While things often don’t go our way, there is more than this life. There is more than just this moment. And God has a plan for each of us. You just happen to only be in the middle of the journey right now.

Now I know that this verse may seem misleading because God never promised us an easy road. He didn’t promise luxury, wealth, or comfort in this life. He promises so much more. He knows what is to come for each and every one of His children. That is such a comfort to me. Knowing that the God of the Universe has a plan for me. And for you.

I have battled with depression and anxiety for many years now. The older I get, the easier the battle becomes because I’m ready for it. I have my armor, support system and action plan ready to go. I understand that many people are still in the most difficult parts of this battle or similar ones. I think that it’s important to understand that we are being held within the arms of the Almighty Savior. He is our Hope. He is our future. And what an amazing future it will be!

I would like to challenge you to find a verse that really speaks to your soul. That really breathes life and love into you. Something that reminds you that you are not alone and that you have the BEST backup imaginable in our Lord Jesus Christ. Memorize this verse. Rehearse this verse. Know it forwards and backwards and put it into your arsenal. Then, when this verse is a part of you, choose another. Pack your arsenal full of love and life. When the dark comes, you will have the light within you to withstand the storm. God bless you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

We All Know Where We Have Been. Do You Know Where You’re Going?

As Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week approaches, I am hit with overwhelming feelings. Anyone that knows my history will understand because I attempted suicide when I was 17. 

At 29 years old now, I can’t believe how amazing my journey has been. 12 years seems like a long time and quite a bit of separation. As they say, hind sight is 20/20. If 17 year old me could have looked into the future and seen what my life would look like now, I’m not sure I could have gone through with my attempt.

I am so thankful that I am still living in this world. I have so many opportunities to change the direction of my life. When I was 17, I couldn’t image a life like this. A life where I am so happy to be alive. A life where I have people that I can feel their love and acceptance like a weighted blanket (in case you didn’t notice, I want one!). A life where even when everything at work is going wrong, I’m stressed, I’m tired, the dogs pooped everywhere and the cats threw up on the bed, I’m good. I may have a moment of freaking out. Who wouldn’t? But then I just have to laugh at the absurdity of the entire situation. 

Why do I say any of this? Well, I want everyone to know that there is an end. It may take some time, but the pain and suffering ends. It has to. You have to let it end. My attempted suicide is such a small part of my life now. It is barely a blip on the scale of my life. I refuse to be defined by the bad things in my life. We go through bad things in this world. We go through terrible, heart breaking things in this life. The key is to not let any of those things define you. 
Here’s the point though, this isn’t about me. It’s not about my history. This is about you. This is about the people that you love. If this week means as much to you as it does to me, then you have been touched by suicide or something just as difficult. It is such a difficult thing to put your head around. Someone feeling so low that they couldn’t image another moment on this earth. 

This is why this week is so important. To let people know that they are not alone. That they have so much to offer this world. And knowing that we were each preciously and fearfully made by the most loving and all powerful God, doesn’t hurt at all. 

The more you rely and grow in Him, the easier this all becomes. Be the light to the world, as God is our Light. Share that love with others and let it GROW! When everything is dark and the walls are caving in, remember, Jesus went before us and showed us the path. 

I am NOT a victim. I am THRIVING! You are NOT a victim. You are THRIVING! We have so much power, because we have God. Use this week as a reminder that through God all things are possible. He specializes in impossible. It’s really His sweet spot of operations. 

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13 -ESV