Anxiety vs Our Big God

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Photo credit to Lily Caldwell, thanks girl!

What do I have to be anxious about? Nothing, right? I am a child of the Creator of the Universe. But I’ve been struggling with anxiety and fearfulness for a few weeks now. Anytime I’m alone, I’m subject to a wave of terror and nervousness sometimes displaying themselves physically with shivers and a lump in my throat so big I have to cough to breathe. In a nutshell–I’m afraid of myself and my sin. I’m afraid of destroying relationships and people that I love. I’m afraid that my future will be one disasterous spiral as I mess up again, and again, and again.

I’m not used to anxiety, because I’m usually optimitic, sometimes even unhealthily to the point of not thinking about consequenses. So this new anxiety has paralized me, to a certain degree, but more than that, it’s forced me to lean on God, and for that I am thankful. When I feel my throat seize up and dread of impending doom settle in my stomach, I have two options: 1. fly apart as I believe that I am in charge of my life, or 2. acknowledge that Jesus is my Savior and my Master and He has freed me from the power of sin.

Isn’t God greater than sin? Hasn’t God directed me this far? Hasn’t He held me so very tightly that not even I can destroy our relationship? How dare I doubt that the God who can control stars can control my life, every single hour of it! From atoms to galaxies, He is Lord.
We’ve been going through a Bible study at church called Behold Your God. It’s wonderful. Through it I’ve come to see that what we need most is to see God for who He truly is. It has been my goal in the fear and anxiety to fix my attention on God instead of on myself. Psalm 139 has been my fallback scripture since I’ve been working on memorizing it. This is what I have memorized right now.
 
Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord! You know it altogether. 
You hem me in behind and before and lay Your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me! It is high, I cannot attain it. 
 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence. If I ascend to heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say “Surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night” even the darkness is not dark to you and night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 
 
For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me when as yet there were none of them
So wonderful and soothing. My God is big enough to calm all my fears. He is faithful and patient and will never let me go.
In Christ,
Ellie

Ten Questions to ask at the Start of a New Year

 

I think I broke my record for “Quickest time learning to write the new year instead of the old year when I write out the date.” If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, it’s not important.

I realize that it would have been helpful to pass along these ten questions at the beginning of the year or slightly before when everyone was making their resolutions and hardening up to be a better person, but maybe it’s best that that didn’t happen. It’s about now we have lost the excitement of the New Year and realized that we’re still the same old people we were last year, and only hard work and prayer is going to change that. So maybe now is the right time to examine ourselves yet again and decide to implement what we’ve resolved to do.

I didn’t write these questions, I’m only sharing them from what Don Whitney shared here. He also has 21 more questions if you’d like to ponder 1 question a day for a whole month. Let me tell you now, it’d be an overwhelming, but probably edifying month. And it’s a very worthwhile article.

Anyway, I want to share these 1o questions with you for your consideration.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
Convicting, no? Definitely a lot to swallow and think about, but don’t forget to put it into practice too. I’m setting reminders on my phone and Google Calendar to come back and think about these questions every month to examine my progress.

 

Love in Christ,
Ellie

A piece of my journal

November 14th, 2015

A scene comes to mind, one I heard of years ago. Why does it come to haunt me now? It disturbs me even more than it did then. Is this the manifestation of the fear that comes from ISIS and hearing about their plans for global domination?

The scene was told by the mother. A cartel invaded their town and began ransacking homes, plundering them and killing everyone who was found in them. This mother gathered her children who were in the house and as five men broke down the front door, she fled with her children out the back door and into the woods, where they ran straight into another cartel that was lining up people to chop off their hands.

She stood in line with her children and her heart began to plead with God to save them somehow. Then her youngest, a little girl, began to cry. She tried to quiet the child, but she only wailed louder. The desperate mother could do nothing. They tore the little girl from her mother and held the screaming child as they dug a hole in the ground. The girl cried until the very end when they buried her alive, her wails silenced by the earth.

Oh God! How my heart inside me melts and my spirit is burdened with the weight of this pain and cruelty! How can people do this? The battle inside hurts, this never-ending struggle to know: is man totally evil, only doing good when it benefits ourselves? Is there any decency in a man left to himself? How can one human being do that to another? How can one ignore this instinct to love and protect children and murder one so small? Does their conscience tear them? Do their morals scream for attention? How can such atrocities be accepted anywhere by anyone?

What happened to her? Was she and her children saved? And how could she ever be happy again having seen such things?

And while men and women are being executed on the other side of the earth for their faith, we struggle to wake up in the morning to read our Bibles that are easy to access in whatever format we want. We read without any fear of arrest, but then toss it away like another box on the checklist. And then we complain that the weather is not to our liking. We whine about people who rub us the wrong way and think that we ought not be forced to put up with these kind of people. We wish the pay checks were higher and our time free to spend at leisure.

What ugly pigs we are. How foolish and shallow I am. Lord, if there is anything I can do, show me. And remind me again of the pricelessness of your word.

My Two Cents

I am not very patriotic, to be honest. I don’t feel comfortable pledging my alliance to a country I don’t believe in. So I don’t. I pray for our President and the leaders of our country, but I don’t make any show of agreeing with them.

So when the Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage, I was surprised at the load of sorrow I felt. I predict that the country cannot last long after such a blow. Families are the building blocks of society, the vitamins of fruitful souls. Families are what produce and raise healthy lives. Without them, society cannot last.
Christian families need to be stronger than ever to survive in a hostile land. It will become more and more obvious as we go along, who the true church is. It will be harder and harder to be a Christian, and we can no longer take it lightly. We will be called old-fashioned, haters, and discriminators, but there is no better time to shine God’s love than when the rest of the world is dark.
I don’t pretend to admire America or its values, but it is my country. The history, the people, the land, I love it more than I realized.
Morals and virtue are almost gone, but I vow to stand for America, despite what it does to itself.

My Life as it is Today

There’s a lot to report, because obviously, it’s been way too long since I’ve written a blog post.

The reason I haven’t been blogging is not that I haven’t been writing or that I forgot about the blog–it’s that my spiritual life has been very dry for quite some time. At first I made attempts to commune with God and enjoy the testimonies of my church family, but eventually it became clear that it was not succeeding and that I was not living as God would have me. And so I stopped even trying.

This is a confession of my weakness and low self-will. I was tired of working, tired of trying, and I let life just blow by me. I didn’t fight for joy and peace in God, and I was driven to depression several times. I was tossed about like chaff in the wind.

But that isn’t what this blog post is about. I have very little self-will and self-discipline, and I’m terribly lazy. But now that you know that, you can see what a great god God really is!

Even though I was in a slump, crying because I knew I ought to read the Bible but I didn’t want to, God still brought me around and thrust the Bible in my lap and told me, “Back to the basics. You don’t need long hours of prayer and penitence. You don’t need all your theology straight. You don’t need all the wisdom you want, nor all the growth you want. You don’t even need to feel the passion you want all the time. Just set aside a small part of your day for me, and let me give you the wisdom, growth, and passion.”

Very basic, very simple. I just needed to start like I was saved yesterday. Who knows, maybe I was, though I don’t think that is the case.

After months of not reading the Bible and praying, and weeks of depression and knowing that I’ll never find joy again–I’m finally communing with God! I’m reading the Bible, not to impress my friends with the deep theological implications of it, but just to read what it says, literally, simply, and go back to the basics of being a Christian.

Before this dry season (that’s the best way I can put it) I had been ecstatic about all the Lord had given me, family, church, a job, a home, food, trips to Mexico, not to mention a niece.

After I stopped reading my Bible daily and praying often, I lost all the joy I had. I lost all the thankfulness I had, though I knew in my head that I ought to be thankful.

Now I feel like I have it all back.

I have joy in my future since my confidence in Christ has been proven true one more time. I know that my future belongs to God.

There’s a couple people who have already told me they were praying for me. I’m so blessed. So blessed to have the church family I have, the friends I have. I’m so blessed to have the Lord shaping me one day at a time. He is increasing the time I spend in the Bible daily, and even though I know I’m going to fail again and again, I know that He is faithful and so very good.

People have been praying for me, but I haven’t been praying for them. I want to begin again with the strength God has given me to pray for the people I vowed to pray for, and those who need it. Please let me know how I can help you.

In Christ,
Ellie

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Why I Battle

I have noticed in myself an apathy, and it concerns me. I haven’t struggled against sin like I should. I haven’t fought for righteousness and holiness like I ought. I’ve sat back and let sin trample me, throwing me down and around until I have absolutely no choice but to throw it off.

My own lack of passion has concerned me, usually when I am around other Christians who are striving for the life that the Lord would have them live–and I can barely managed to pray every day. Or when my brothers and sisters are convicted of sin–and I haven’t heeded my own convictions that fall like a puddle around my feet. It took me awhile to diagnose the problem. It is disbelief.

A few weeks ago at our church’s family camp, Mr. Tren Groat preached a sermon, linked here. He said in that sermon, “Satan wants you to believe that the sin in your life can’t be defeated.” I felt electricity course through me as I was lightning struck. I thought, “Well then–it can be defeated?” My head answered, “But of course!” Jesus died to rescue us from sin. He overcame death and the grave. God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved son!

I realized then that I wasn’t believing what my head was saying, and my head was quoting the Bible. I wasn’t truly believing the gospel, that I have been rescued from sin.

The next evening, Pastor Scott preached a sermon, linked here. It was a beautiful sermon: a beautiful picture of a beautiful person who served the church in a simply beautiful way. I could have melted right there, swallowed in despair and the overwhelming feeling that I will never get there.

I love my church family so badly! I get choked up thinking about all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to serve them wholeheartedly, without prideful thoughts, without selfish intent. I want to be the person God has called me to be! But unconsciously I have been telling myself over and over that I will never get there, so why even try?

That question has beaten me up in the past few days. I couldn’t get around it. Why try if I’ll never get there? I know I will always have sin. I will never be able to do anything with a completely pure motive. So why should I try?

This is why I am not passionate. This is why I am despairing. This is why I am unhappy. Because I am not believing God’s promises.

I found the answer Wednesday night.

Why should I fight for righteousness? Because God is worth it, and our relationship to Him only gets sweeter and sweeter from here on out. If we could ever be perfect here on the earth, we wouldn’t experience His strength through our weaknesses like we can now. If we were perfect–there would be no grace. We hunger and thirst for righteousness because that is what brings us closer to God.

So why don’t I fight against sin? Because I don’t believe that I can conquer it. Which is true, but Jesus already did! I don’t have to subject myself to my old master. I’m no longer a child of sin, but a child of God.

Two things have really encouraged me through this battle to believe that the sin in my life is defeated, and I ought to fight against it.

1st, I look at people around me–and they aren’t perfect–but they’re awesome! I want to be like that. And I know that they didn’t get there by giving up. They got there by pursuing God with all their heart, soul, and mind.

2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

They struggled hard, went through trials, and sought after God as He worked in them to change them into a beautiful person. Those people–and if you know me, I’m probably talking about YOU–are the people that encourage me to love and good works. They inspire me to be more, to struggle farther, to follow after God and allow Him to work in my life. That’s why I need my church family so much! And for all those people–thanks.

2nd, the Bible is full of of admonishments to press on. On the one hand, that shows me that I’m not the only one who struggles with discouragement that leads to apathy.

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

And on the other hand, I know that it can be done and ought to be done.

Romans 8:10
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

1 Timothy 6:11
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

And that is my battle from the last couple of weeks, believing that I am free from sin. This confession has tried to stay hidden for a long time. I didn’t want to write it. I didn’t want to be held accountable for posting it. I didn’t want people knocking on my door (figuratively) to make sure I was struggling on, fighting the good fight, warding off apathy. But what I have come to see, and what I hope you see, is that I don’t need a chart to make sure I am keeping up, but an encouragement in the promises of God. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. And He promised me that I no longer belong to sin, but I belong to Him. And through Him I will overcome the sin in my life.

And now with this freshly strapped to my forehead, I hope to fight on, not out of obligation, but out of a passion to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Romans 6:17-18
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

In Christ,
Ellie

St.Louis Amigan, 11th Anniversary

I have a great friend, one who is a talented writer, composer, and a great encourager.

For the 11th anniversary of his newsletter St.Louis Amigan Billsey asked if I would write about something that often gets in the way of me and God.

I am greatly honored to be featured in his newsletter. You really ought to take the time to read his article and especially his hymns. :)

To view it, click here. Or copy the link and paste it into your browser: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx5lJdNg2WEYa0JxZ2dxUmtMTEE/edit

 

~Ellie