The Only Thing to Fear is . . .

“The righteous will be remembered forever. He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is upheld, he will not fear, . . . “-Psalm 112:6b-8a

Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I’m not freaking out with the rest of the world when something bad happens, and a lot of bad happens these days. I get outraged and sad, and deeply affected by atrocities and injustice. Especially where children are concerned. I was so upset after watching news of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that my husband banned me from watching the news. I’ve watched very few newscasts since then. You don’t have to watch the news anymore, just scroll your Facebook feed or jump on Twitter and there it is. Bad news can make me angry or sad, but very seldom afraid.

I know what fear feels like, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been caught in its grip many times, especially before I knew that I didn’t have to be afraid. Before I knew the Creator of the universe and His sovereignty. Before Jesus in my life there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. I had no idea what the future held and very little idea of how to successfully navigate the present. I reacted a lot. There was no anchor for my soul and I floundered all over the place. In hindsight, I really wonder where I’d be today if I hadn’t had the Lord to help me navigate the past 24-years.

We have a sort of running joke in our family. Whenever someone asks, “What is this world coming to?” someone else will answer, “An end.” My eldest son started that and while it seemed kind of funny at first, the fact is, it’s the truth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! . . . God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” -Revelation‬ ‭21:1-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God will have His justice on the evil in the world; “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ” VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” -Romans‬ ‭12:19‬ ‭NASB‬‬. He knows everything that goes on and His timetable has purpose. I know it’s hard to understand how a loving God could let such terrible things happen. I wrestle with that myself. I am convinced, however, that He sees the beginning from the end and His understanding of history is vastly different from ours, beyond our comprehension in fact. This world that we know will be replaced one day with something brand new. Sin and evil will be gone along with all those who chose separation from God.

For me, the idea of separation from God scares me more than anything. Here and now as well as for eternity. There is where any true fear lies for me. Fortunately, my soul is secure in Christ and I have nothing to fear. If I were to die today by any means, my soul would live forever with Jesus in the “everything new” that He is creating. “But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” -Acts 2:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬. “But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” -Hebrews‬ ‭10:39‬ ‭NLT‬‬. He is my Savior and the Lord of my life – forever! He is with me here and now, giving my life purpose and working all things out for my good and He will be with me forever. Not just me, but all who call on the name of Jesus!

The only thing to truly fear is God, Who can destroy body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28 paraphrased). But those who know and love Him have nothing to fear. He is the anchor for their soul and not even death can destroy them. Their souls are secure and their lives are guided. Everything that happens to them has purpose whether it’s readily obvious or not. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬.

This life is fleeting, a mere breath; “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” -Psalms‬ ‭144:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬. One day none of this will exist and all the evil will be gone. The question I ask myself is how do I want to spend this breath; being afraid out of reflex and being of no use to anyone or living in the peace of God with my focus on Him and maybe help some others do the same? I choose the latter. How about you?

😊💕

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C.D. Journals – July 18, 2019

“Physical frailties may cause you to miss earthly fun and fellowship, but spiritual resources will enable you to grow stronger on the bed of affliction.” I read this in my devotional this morning and found it very encouraging. Something I dearly needed after the events of yesterday.

I was all packed for a three-day visit at my sister’s. The car was loaded and I was heading out – in my husband Rich’s Chevy Cruze, which I have not driven in months. Normally I drive a Tahoe with great visibility and a head rest that accommodates my C.D. quite well. Unfortunately, we discovered the other day that my Tahoe had become home to a family of mice. So, my vehicle was at work with Rich (who works at a Chevy dealer) where the mice would hopefully be eradicated.

I got most of the way out of my neighborhood, unable to situate my head comfortably enough for a two-hour drive. I drove around the neighborhood a little more, trying unsuccessfully to work it out. The head rest hit me in the wrong place and actually pushed my head forward a bit. Even with my brace on, I couldn’t get it situated. I drove back home and aborted my trip. My C.D. has gotten a little worse since the last time I drove the Cruze and even then I was not entirely comfortable.

My son unloaded the car for me and helped me unpack with tears in my eyes. Yet another limitation caused by this nightmare of a disease. I was frustrated and depressed, not only about not getting to visit with my sister as scheduled, but over the entire situation. It took me hours to pack when it used to take me half that much time. By the time I was done packing I was so sore and tired that I had to rest before I faced the drive. Then, I was thwarted by my inability to get situated in the car – an obstacle I could not overcome.

I feel like anytime I get behind the wheel is even more dangerous than normal now. I even fear having my license taken away, although I’ve not heard of that happening to someone with C.D. As a result, I don’t drive nearly as much as I used to – probably how we ended up with mice in the Tahoe, it sat too much. I hate feeling limited like that. I keep trying to look on the bright side. The quote above reminded me that God has used the “bed of affliction” in my life before. We wrote a Bible study during one such season. I had to stay off my feet for three months. Talk about limiting and frustrating, but God had a purpose in that and He has a purpose now. I just need to stay focused on that and keep believing that He is in control. I love how He sends me little bits of encouragement just when I need it most. Even though very little goes the way I want it to these days, Jesus is good and He is with me. We will get through this and be stronger for it. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.” -Psalm 28:7a

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Lead Us

black hanging bridge surrounded by green forest trees

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

Lead us, Father,
to the place we should go,
to the patch of garden
where we will grow.
Plant our roots deep
in the soil of Your choice.
Open our hearts
to hear Your voice.
In Your will
we desire to be,
Your plan for our lives
we long to see.
Hear our cry.
Heed our call.
In the pit of despair
let us not fall.
Light the way,
give us hope.
Lead us, Father,
to the place we should go.
©Brenda Lenz, 2019

Longing

clouds

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The feeling inside that you are destined for greater things
Is there because you are.
The longing for something more
Is your soul longing for home.
The emptiness you can’t define
Is the God shaped hole in your heart.

Our souls are eternal
Created for perfection
Until sin crept in,
A deadly infection.

But In His image
We were created,
And Jesus came
So that justice was sated.

This world is not home.
Our destiny is perfection.
Relationship with Christ
Leads to completion.

We are destined for greater things.
Our souls long for home in a greater place.
We are children of God, our hearts well know
And our longing is fulfilled in our Savior’s face.

                                                          ©Brenda Lenz, 2019

Adventurous Plans

Because God made you and knows you, He has great plans in store for you. You may not know what any of those plans are yet, but you’re going to love them.This was part of my devotion this morning. I read these words and simultaneously laughed and cried. Sometimes I just don’t know what motivates some of these Devotional writers to say the things they say. I think some of them blow a little too much sunshine. I do not LOVE all of God’s plans for me. I’m just being honest. I certainly don’t love having C.D. I don’t love living in Texas (no offense to my Texan family & friends). I don’t love a lot of things that have happened in my life. On the other hand, there have been plenty of His plans that I have loved; His plan for me to meet and marry my incredible husband, His plan for me to have four beautiful and amazing children, and the list could go on and on. I believe that God has more plans for me, or at least I hope He does. I also believe that I’m not going to love them all, and I believe that they will all work together for good somehow.

God has an exciting adventure planned for you. And the best part is that He’s promised to walk with you every step of the way!This quote is also from this morning’s devotion and this I know. I have walked with Jesus for almost 25-years and it has been anything but boring. I never know exactly what He’s going to do next or where He’ll lead me. It has been the adventure of a lifetime and He has seen me through every bit of it. Some days I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. I start the day with a black cloud over me, especially since my diagnosis. I know that as soon as I lift my crooked head off the pillow the battle will begin, and some days I just don’t want to do it. I call out to God and He’s there. I spend some time with Him and in His Word and I feel better equipped to fight the good fight. He strengthens me when I’m weak, He gives me hope when I feel hopeless, He reminds me of all that He’s blessed me with when I’m tempted to start a pity party. He encourages me, He comforts me, He is my Rock and my Salvation, and my adventures with Him thus far have indeed been exciting!

What do you think God wants you to do?These words also made me simultaneously laugh and cry because my answer is, “I have no idea!” Aside from the basic directives in the Bible, I have no idea what God wants me to do right now in this season of my life. I am still waiting for some direction there, or maybe God is waiting for me to see what’s right in front of me. Either way, I have yet to be enlightened. Prayers are always appreciated. 🙏🏻😊

God has plans for me. I won’t always love them, but I love and trust my Lord Jesus. I may not know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now, but in His time I believe I will. As a dear friend and mentor once said, “I eagerly anticipate what He has in store for me.” Love it or not, it will be an adventure!

😊💕

The Truth About My Father

I’m going to be very transparent with you here. I am not one of those Christians who are always bubbling over with joy; mostly smiling, glowing from the inside out, and oh so loving and patient. I wish I were. I’ve always wanted to be like them, but no. At least not yet. No, I’m more the serious type; analytical and sometimes doubtful in my faith. I ask more questions than maybe I should and I see God more as stern and serious than anything else.

I read devotions that tell me God “likes me”, wants to “hang out” and “laugh with me”. That He’s excited about the things that excite me. For some reason, I find this hard to believe. I know that He loves me. I have no doubt about that, but like me? That’s a horse of a different color. I see myself more as a disappointment to God. I feel more like He’s frowning at me than smiling at me.

I suspect that a lot of my issue is that I put my earthly father’s face on my Heavenly Father, which is completely unfair to God. My dad was a terrible god; abusive, emotionally distant, impossible to please – nothing like my Heavenly Father and yet . . . here I am. I’ve heard that this father transference thing is common and I think that’s very sad, especially when the earthly father was not all that great of a guy.

How to change it? That’s my question. How do I get the things I know about God; that He is faithful “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.” -Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV, that He cares for me “Casting all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you.” -1Peter 5:7 ESV, He rejoices and sings over me! “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17 ESV. Those are some amazing truths and I need them to move from my head down into my heart.

I want to believe with all my heart that God and I are like the picture above. I think maybe I’ll hang that picture somewhere with the verses listed above and meditate on them and pray them until my heart gets it. The Lord and I have wrestled before and He has always helped me to understand. I am completely confident that He will help me with this. I believe in my heart that God wants me to know Him for Him and not confuse Him with someone else. “. . . For he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him -Hebrews 11:6b NASB. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” -Matthew 7:8 ESV.

Heavenly Father, I seek to know You for who You truly are. I desire to know in my heart, without a doubt, how You feel about me and who I am to You. More than head knowledge, Lord, I want Your truth to grow deep roots in my heart. I commit this to You and thank You that You will complete the good work You have begun in me. In the amazing name of Jesus! Amen!

😊💕

Forgiven to Forgive

Someone has hurt you terribly; cut you to the core and broken your heart. You feel as though you could NEVER forgive them. So, you don’t. You choose to carry the hurt around, wallowing in it now and then, and fantasizing about how to hurt them back. Or, at least, thinking about different ways the situation could have gone in your favor. Imagining yourself walking away with your dignity intact and the perpetrator regretting what they had done.

Unfortunately, it rarely goes the way of our “after the fact” imaginations or we wouldn’t be imagining something different. No. We’ve been hurt and we have to make a choice; hang on to the hurt, ignore it altogether and just pretend it never happened, or let it go and forgive.

Hanging onto the hurt is the most toxic choice, I think. It stays inside your heart and festers. It’s like a parasite that eats you up from the inside; breeding resentment and hatred. It turns very nasty and hurts no one but yourself. As much as you may think that your suffering is somehow punishing the other person; it’s all happening internally and no one feels the pain like you do. The person who hurt you is not suffering at all. They’ve probably gone on their merry way leaving you to do all the suffering. Do you really want to give them that kind of power over you?

Ignoring it and pretending it never happened may sound like the easy solution, but your heart is smarter than that. Your heart has the memory of an elephant and you’re going to have a bit of a fight on your hands trying to ignore your hurt heart. It can be done for spurts of time, but the memory will rear it’s ugly head now and then and you’ll be back at the start. Or, the pain will manifest in other ways; anger, depression, even physical illness. Doesn’t sound so easy after all, does it?

Letting it go and forgiving. This probably sounds like the most difficult and least fun option (we do enjoy a good pity party) and it is. However, it is the most healthy and beneficial option. Unforgiveness enslaves you. Forgiveness sets you free. it doesn’t mean you forget, or even excuse the other person’s behavior. Forgiveness doesn’t even always mean the restoration of the relationship. Forgiveness means that you choose not to hold a grudge. As Dictionary.com puts it, to cease to feel resentment against“. We choose to feel differently.

“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” -1 John 1:9 NLT. Those who call Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives are forgiven their sins. All the bad things that we’ve done in our lives are forgiven by God. We have a clean slate with Him, and anytime we mess up we have only to go to Him in repentance and He is quick to forgive. He is a merciful and compassionate Father. So who are we to not afford our fellow sinners – imperfect humans – the same grace? Regardless of how awful or hurtful, sin is sin and we are all sinners.

As I said, forgiveness is the more difficult option. Especially if the hurt was totally out of the blue and completely unjustified. And it is completely doable. It starts with a choice and a confession to God. Admit to Him your feelings, every last ugly one of them, and tell Him that you’re choosing to forgive. You may need to do this over and over again until your heart goes along with it and you are truly no longer feeling resentful. Nothing worth having comes easy. A healed heart and the freedom that comes with it is WELL worth having!

😊💕