flesh.

How does one Word become flesh and change us?

Words fly by so quickly. Speaking, listening, reading. They are a blur. I feel the urge, need even, to slow down and live life frame by frame in order to simply connect. But life doesn’t often allow for that, so I find myself fighting for it. Listen deeper to those I love, to the words I read, to my own heart.

When I slow down I can Remember and Consider. Remember the Truth of the Gospel (for God so loved the world…) and Consider my Reasons to Trust (I am with you, I will never, no never, forsake you!) These are the ingredients of growing in God. And believe it or not, this combination can transform your, my, Anxiety into Joy and Love.

How, you ask?

Anxiety remade becomes your friend–your door to actually knowing God. It becomes an informative signal, a door to faith. Much like the oil light on your dashboard flashing the need for attention, anxiety remade expresses honest need and distress of faith. When need is expressed as outcry, we are met with joy. When we Remember and Consider, we intercept our anxiety and begin to switch modes, and begin working towards joy. Instead lying on my bed and crying Woe is me, I cry out to the Lord. Anxiety becomes the signal to remind me, drive me, to the psalms, somewhere constructive.

Anxiety transformed makes me a friend to others. It becomes an expression of love and wisdom. Jesus knew anxiety transformed. He spoke the words of Psalms 31 and 22. He is the faithful High Priest who deals gently with the hurting. And we get to become that! Just as Timothy in Philippians 2 who was genuinely concerned, genuinely anxious for the welfare of the church at Philippi, we get to see anxiety transformed into care and service towards others. Anxiety remade lets us know there is a way forward, giving you the ability to help others with compassion and clarity. Actual, real help.

This journey of remaking our anxieties into something constructive is slow, hard and not mechanical. It is both personal and interpersonal. We, I, must face ourselves and open ourselves up to a loving and living relationship with God and others.

It begins with an Honest Conversation. Ask and really ask for help. Live a life of small obediences. Wear a path to the pool of grace. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. His power (divine kindness) is made perfect in weakness.

{all taken once again directly from my notes from CCEFs Anxiety conference}

steps.

{continuing to work through my notes from the conference}

There is a command in the Bible that I know well, and hold dear. It was my grandmother’s favorite verse, if I remember correctly, and became an oft quoted one in our family.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have liked tis verse, but I will admit that it has at times stressed me out. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS….oh, good grief. I can’t do that! But walking through the verse with the Speaker in mind changes that.

First of all, do not be anxious, fear not, don’t be afraid….these are the most common phrases found in the Bible. God is trying to communicate something, don’t ya think? He is reassuring us.

And back it up. What words come right before that command? The Lord is near Ah, sweet comfort of our God who is with us!

Now, say that together… the Lord is near; do not be anxious… Much better!

No one chooses to be anxious or afraid. It happens. It falls upon you like a cartoon-style grand piano. This is not an active violation of Love, like pride, manipulation, immorality. This is a violation of Trust. A response to feeling or being alone in a dangerous world where everything truly could go wrong. It is hard to trust anything in this broken world.

But God is very concerned in giving us reasons to trust him. He says the same thing (fear not) so many times, in many different ways, all so we will be able to gather up reasons to trust.

Phil. 1:6 he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

This verse anchors your, my, life as a journey of hope.

Phil. 2:1-11 Jesus came near. He wore and faced what we wear and face. And is Alive.
Phil. 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
God works it out. The growing and changing.
Phil. 4:7 the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:3…whose names are in the book of life.
Phil. 4:19 and my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

We have better reasons not to be afraid.
Jesus cares too much to be serene. He is not detached. He is engaged.

So, what do we do with this? David Powlison offers 6 steps:
1. Identify your form of anxiety.what are the cues? How will you know you are anxious?
2. Consider your reasons for trust. Make it personal. These are promises! (consider the lilies…)
3. Name your real troubles and anxieties. You will find it is a finite list. Anxiety makes you feel like it is infinite.
4. Identify what hijacks your heart. Functional unbelief. No, you didn’t stop believing, but you did forget…
5. Have the honest conversation. By prayer and supplication. Pray. Ask and really ask for help.
6. Do what needs doing today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

{all of this is lifted straight from my notes from CCEF’s Anxiety conference. You can purchase the audio here}

a person.

Whenever I struggle with fear, worry, anxiety, panic…….. I fall into a trap of believing I am:
Abnormal
Alone
Isolated
Powerless
Punished

When the truth is, if we were really honest, fear and anxiety is a common trait among human beings as much as the air we breathe. These experiences, or responses to experiences, are very Normal. Now the other descriptors up there are up for grabs, but I offer that they, too, are lies.

All fears and anxieties are saying something. It is sometimes hard to listen to them honestly, because I find they so often are screaming and ranting incessantly. However, if we can give them a chance we will hear them saying that something we want, love, trust or treasure is feeling threatened. Now, it may actually be true, so this is not always a wacked-out feeling! However, quite often, fears and anxieties take things a bit too far.

In the midst of our woes we begin looking for a person. Someone to bring relief, alleviate the problem, fix it. Or someone to blame, take responsibility for it all. But if we could slow this down and really look at it, we would see that we are all really hoping for the Right Person. The only Person who promises us truth. His name is God is with Us!

Exodus 33:16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.

He is the only one who brings peace and offers hope. There is nothing I find more comforting, grounding and clarity-inducing.

John 20:19b Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Psalm 46, Matthew 8 remind us that he is mighty, able, and willing. He calms the storms both figurative and real. He holds together the very molecules of my being!

It is when I begin to walk in faith during my fears and anxieties that I begin to see the spiritual reality of my life. I begin believing the truth. Fears tell me I am alone. Faith tells me He is with me! I often imagine the chariots of fire surrounding me just as the young man with Elisha saw with his own eyes.

This shift in focus, this slowing down and listening that allows me to see that there is a destination. Hope. God points us to the future and let’s us know he is writing it and it is good. Our heavenly home will be utterly free of this struggle. And in the mean time, I will grab the opportunities fear and anxiety present me with and take part of this Redemption story. My redemption story.

worship.

The songs sung at the conference were so very powerful. I think it was the context and the group. We were all gathered as Anxious People. (But aren’t we all?)

The worship team opened with us singing Come, Thou Fount. You all already know my deep love for that one. Next, we sang Be Still My Soul. Seriously, the words here could be meditated on verse by verse, line by line…so rich and honest. I plan on adding a bit of worship to my days. What hymns/songs/poems/words lead you into honest worship?

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

hope.

Well, dear Readers, be prepared to camp out here for awhile with me as I sort through my pages of notes and wandering thoughts I accumulated in the past 24 hours. How do I describe such a time?

Rich.
Hope-filled.
Grace-drenched.
Love-inducing.
Reminded.
Worshipful.
Grounded.

I could go on and on there. So I need to dip my toe in. I need to start with what is coming to the surface now. My thoughts will not be linear.

My biggest take-away from my time at CCEFs Anxiety Conference is that I want to know more scripture. Why is this something I say constantly and take minimal steps towards? I know that God’s word is the only thing I can cling to I my darkest times. I remember one day where I was stuck in bed, quite content to pull the covers over my head. I had just had a miscarriage and my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. So, yes, just reasons for fear and anxiety. But I was on my bed crying…going nowhere. A dear friend called me up and didn’t ask how to help. Didn’t try to fix it. She stayed on the phone with me for over an hour reading scripture to me. Reminding me of God’s promises until one jumped out for me that I could cling to and rise up. She prayed, emailed the verses to me and continued to fortify me with the only thing that helps: God’s words.

Ed Welch closed the conference with a time of reflection and Where Do We Go From Here kind of thoughts. He spoke of the psalms. Some of them draw a response of Yes, That’s Me! Others draw aspiration.Hope to one day Be There. He closed by reading a “psalm” that has very close relevance to my life, my story, and the lives and stories of my family. He read 1 Peter 1:3-9. At the mention of 1 Peter 1, there were tears flowing. This passage was the only passage highlighted in my Dad’s Bible when he passed away. It was highlighted because he helped my Mom memorize it for her Bible study. There are now a team of women who have this written on their hearts, with a special Ruth Ann Tag attached. So, as I post it here, I commit to joining my Mom and memorizing it. But not just saying the words. I will sit and think on them. Do you memorize scripture? Do you want to? Join me….I am in need.

Praise God for a Living Hope
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

anxiety.

I am off to a conference on Anxiety: How God Cares for Stressed People. I admit to being one of those kind of people.

The speakers are from CCEF, the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, David Powlison and Ed Welch. Many of you know that I love Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared. So, I am pretty excited. I need to run, so hopefully in coming days I will have a more thoughtful post about what I learn this weekend.

Enjoy your weekend!