A Picture of Trust

pic-of-trust10302016As a newborn my daughter didn’t like to wake up for her feedings. She would be content to sleep all day. I had to wake her so she would eat. Which was not easy. I would pick her up so she was facing me. I would talk to her, blow on her face or make weird sounds in attempts to wake her. She would continue to sleep with her little arms flopped out to the sides. She looked so peaceful, as though she didn’t have a care in the world. A perfect picture of contentment and trust.

I would like to be like that with my Heavenly Father. Trusting Him so much that I could rest all my cares into His hands. Trusting completely the One who is holding me. So much that all my fears, all my worries just melt away. And here, completely surrendered to the One that holds me, all I feel is peace. Perfect peace that is not contingent upon what is going on around me. Peace that is not based on the amount of money in my bank account or on any situation that may be on the horizon. But trusting that the One who holds me loves me more than I can fathom and has my best interest at heart.

…Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, will not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

I do no need to be shaken when the world around me rises up in upheavals that come from a broken world. I do not need to be anxious about what politician stands in what office because Jesus is King of all and He is still in control. I do not need to be concerned when I am short on food, money or time. Heaven never experiences famine. My Father not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills but he can multiply my food and have it brought to me by ravens if He wants. I do not need to worry about relationships that are difficult but I need to trust the Lord and lay it all at His feet. I don’t have the answer to all these situations or life’s difficulties but I know that the Lord does and I know He told me not to worry or be anxious about anything. He told me to trust Him and not to fear. So before I let anxiousness steal one more good night’s rest from me, I will choose to be like that little child that rests in hands of the One who loves her so much.

Be still and know that I am God…

Psalm 46:10

Our Lessons on Fear in a Nutshell

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a homeschooling mom of four kids between kindergarten and 8th grade. I really enjoy teaching my kids. It’s challenging some days but anything worth doing will have it’s challenges. My favorite class is Bible class. Since I enjoy writing, I often write our Bible curriculum. For several weeks now I’ve been teaching the kids about fear. I thought it was a timely topic. We set out to answer questions such as: What kinds of fears are there? What should we fear and what should we not fear? Where does fear come from? How do people in the Bible deal with fear? What does God have to say about fear? I wanted to share with you a summary of what we discussed. Feel free to discuss these things with your children, grandchildren or students.

Fear is defined in Webster’s II Dictionary as 1 Alarm caused by expectation or realization of danger 2 Reverence: awe 3 A state of dread or apprehension. Since the most common use of the word fear falls under definition three, that’s where we spent much of our time. There are so many different kinds of fear.

Fear of man is when you’re worried about what people may do to you or think of you. The danger here is when you go to great lengths to continue to look good to people. Even if it means you have to lie, be deceptive or disobey the Lord. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.” Some great examples of this in the Bible are found in I Samuel 15:1-35, Mark 11:27-32, and Luke 20:19.

Fear of harm We all have a natural instinct to move when a ball is flying towards us or run when something jumps out at us. Fleeing from danger can be a good thing. On the other hand a person can become overly worried about getting hurt or sick. God gave us a mind to help us stay safe. We should use wisdom in how we live by eating healthy, following what the Lord says, not fretting over things and trusting God. This will give us health and keep us from situations that could harm us physically, emotionally and spiritually. We also don’t have to fear sickness or injury because God has power over sickness (and injury). “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:5

No matter what we face in life God will be with us. He will walk with us and give us strength to get through hard times. He will never leave us. So we don’t have to be afraid. Nothing is bigger than God. No illness, no injury, no situation is to hard for the Lord.

Fear of evil I will fear no evil… Evil, when you hear that word you probably get a feeling or picture. So what do you think of when you hear the word evil? The Dictionary defines evil as something morally wrong or bad, something that causes harm or injury. In other words it’s knowing the difference between right and wrong and choosing to do wrong.

Our enemy, the devil, is full of evil. Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) However, God’s Word teaches that we do not need to fear Satan or any evil.

…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” I John 4:4 Jesus lived His life free from sin. He walked in perfect victory. He had power over sickness, sin, even the wind and the waves obeyed Him. He had the power to multiply food just by speaking and death could not overcome Him. He had power over all of this. The same Spirit that lived in Him and did all those things lives in those of us who have made Jesus Lord of our lives. So if you have made Jesus Lord of your life that same Spirit lives in you. That same power lives in you. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy…”

We do not need to be overcome by evil. We stay away from evil not because we are afraid but because we love God and know it doesn’t please Him to do evil things. We should “hate evil and cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9)

Effects of fear Fear is not from God. It’s a tool the enemy uses. He knows he can get us to slow down or stop through fear. Fear works against a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Lord gives us peace. When our minds are fixed on the Lord we will have peace and be able to think things through. We will have confidence, not in ourselves but in the fact that God loves us and is taking care of us. Fear will keep you from what God has for you. It makes you unfruitful and keeps you from moving forward. God desires more for us, SO much more! “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba Father.” Romans 8:15

Fear of God The fears mentioned earlier have to do with dread or apprehension but fear of the Lord has to do with awe and reverence which proverbs-9-10is the 2nd definition in the dictionary. The fear of the Lord is a great respect for God that includes us doing what He wants us to. We do this because we love Him and are thankful for all He’s done for us. It’s a natural part of following Jesus. When we fear the Lord we will delight in what He delights in and the things that make Him sad will make us sad too.

All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Proverbs 8:13a

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs14:27

Overcoming fear We don’t have to stay a slave to fear. Because of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. We don’t have to let fear control us or cower away from what the Lord calls us to do. God has given us weapons in this battle. The Lord has given us wisdom to know when something is not good and to walk away. First Thessalonians 5:22 says, “Stay away from evil.” That’s pretty clear instruction.

The Word of God, the Bible, is a wonderful tool the Lord has given to us. In it we will find direction, promises, truth, and strength. There are more verses about fear in the Word than I can put in these lessons. Get to know the Bible. See what God is speaking to you. Memorize Scripture. At just the right time the Holy Spirit will remind you of what God’s Word says when you need it. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword…”

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are in a battle but we are not fighting people. We are fighting powers of darkness. But we don’t need to worry because God gave us weapons to fight with. In fact, He gave us His very own armor. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil.” Jesus taught that God has given us authority over the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17-18, Luke 9:1, John 14:12) We need to learn how to use the armor and authority God has given us.

The last tool the Lord has given us to overcoming fear is a powerful one – trust. We can put our trust in God. We can trust that God is in control. We can trust that He will supply our needs. We can trust He will protect us from all that we fear. We can trust that He will do what He promises. We can trust Him to never leave us, that He will strengthen us and He will carry us through. We can trust Him no matter what the circumstances because He has proven Himself to be faithful. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

As we rest in Him all our fears will melt away. Get in His presence, focus on Him and trust Him. I closed by reading them Psalm 91.

There you go, that’s the summary. The original lessons took us seven or eight days and had questions at the end of each lesson. Then we looked at some Bible stories to see how people reacted when fear was starring them in the face. I should point out that I do Bible class with all four children at the same time. Some of this was a little over my kindergartner’s head but I was surprised how many times he came up with the right answers. One thing I’ve learned about teaching the kids is you never know when they may be getting it better than you think. If nothing else I believe seeds get planted in their hearts and I know the Lord will be faithful to complete that work.

The Lion and the Bees

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love watching the grass and trees turn green. The flowers bring pops of color among the now green lawns. It seems everything springs to life again. This winter seemed much longer than most winters, so the beauty and warmth of spring was that much more welcomed. Since we spent so much time indoors from this very frigid winter, I was sure to take the kids outside as soon as it was warm enough for me. They were excited to play outside, that is until they saw a bee (or a wasp—either way it had a stinger and that’s all my kids cared about). Suddenly my girls wanted to go back inside. This happened several days in a row and I was getting quite tired of their fear of bees. I wanted us all to be outside enjoying the weather.

One afternoon we were outside and the neighbor girl had come over to play. My daughter and the neighbor girl were discussing how much they disliked bees. One said, “I’d rather be chased by a lion than a bee.” The other replied, “Yeah, I think we could outrun the lion on our bike.” I thought to myself, I can’t believe I’m hearing this. I know they are only eight and eleven years old, but they are either giving way too much credit to the bee or they don’t realize how dangerous a lion can be. It made me think about how we, as parents, need to be sure we are giving our children the correct perspective on the dangers of life.

There were times in the Bible when the people of God neglected to tell the next generation about the Lord. They didn’t tell of His glory or His laws. As a result, people didn’t know how to treat each other. They turned from the Lord and consistently were turned over to the hands of their enemies. We, too, need to be sure to teach our children the ways of the Lord and to warn them of the dangers of sin. Some sin may feel like a bee sting. Others have consequences more like that of a hungry lion. We don’t want to buy into the lie that we are playing with a kitten, when in fact it’s a lion. The world has a way of disguising things to look more innocent than they are. Their true light often doesn’t show until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to tell our children the difference. I would go one step further and not just teach them to stay away from harmful things, but show them the way to live a fruitful life that is set apart from the ways of the world. Not just tell them to stay clear of danger, but take the higher path that is blessed with life.

I was trying to teach my kids not to be afraid of the bees, but every time I went outside with my kids to play there was a wasp (or bee) every few feet. It’s not that the air was thick with them, but every few feet there was one somewhere. It was ridiculous. We couldn’t even go out to swing. So my husband went outside to be our brave hero armed with a can of wasp spray. He was surprised to find more than six nests. They like the overhang of our house. Our brave warrior even had to buy more spray because he went through the can and still hadn’t gotten them all.

I began to think of the parallel I made earlier in a different light. My kids need to be made aware of the dangers of life because we don’t know where life will take them. However, the chances are slim to none that my kids will ever see a roaming lion in our neighborhood. On the other hand, wasps and bees are very common around here. To me, those pesky stinger flying fellows are like the things in our life that cause small problems. A new phrase I keep hearing is “respectable sins”—things like gossip, little lies (is there really such a thing), complaining, etc… Things that seem so trivial to us that we let slide into our lives. Yet, they are things the Lord doesn’t want for us because they don’t have our best interest at heart. When you let those things pile up, you can get swarms of pests settling themselves around you, increasing your fear and chances of getting stung. Letting one small seed of bitterness stay in your heart results in poison to your soul. Complaining leads to negativity and shifts your attitude towards everything in life. This is not God’s way for us. While we need to differentiate between the lion and the bee, we also need to be sure we are keeping our hearts clear of things that would be poisonous to our hearts.

As for us, our hero bought more spray and took care of our pesky problem. What a joy it is to play outside without fear of getting stung.

Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. Exodus 18:20 (NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)

Fear Not My Child

The kids have been wanting a pet for years. That is with the exception of my youngest son. He’s afraid of animals. My mom has Shih Tzus and he’s been afraid of those since he could walk. He’s been doing better with them lately and I thought maybe he’d outgrown his fear. So we decided to go to the animal shelter to see what they had. The three kids wanted a pet were forewarned that we were just looking. We had to be sure dad’s allergies weren’t going to bother him and that their little brother would be okay with having a cat.

Our intentions were to see if they had a certain breed of cat that is better for people with allergies. That breed wasn’t there but we saw a kitten and of course we fell in love with it. We went home, and after some discussion, my husband and I decided to give the kitten a chance. Our animal shelter has a great program that allows you to take the animal home overnight to see if it will work with your family. That was perfect for us since there were two members of our family that were a questionable fit for a cat. The shelter already closed for the weekend so we had to wait til Monday. After lunch on Monday we picked up the seven-month-old cat. The older three kids were in heaven. She was the center of attention for hours. I kept an eye on my youngest son, but he seemed to be doing okay. He was p1010371interested in the kitty, but a little unsure.

Finally, I told the kids to leave the cat alone for awhile. The kids watched TV while I was busy in the kitchen. Twenty to thirty minutes passed and the kitten decided to see where everybody was. She went into the living room and jumped on the couch right next to my four-year-old. He screamed and cried as he scurried to separate himself from the cat. I picked him up and tried to calm him down. I wasn’t sure if the cat just surprised him or if he truly was afraid. A yellow flag went up for me. I kept a closer eye on him.

During dinner you could see he was cautious, but felt protected by mom and dad, so his guard came down just a bit. After dinner the other kids went to play with the kitten. My son felt just brave enough that he wanted to see her, so we went together. He stood in the doorway and watched the kitten being playful as she pounced all over the girls’ bedroom. He seemed to be enjoying himself until the cat decided to dart out the door he was standing in and went right between his legs. He screamed in terror. He couldn’t get away fast enough. I picked him up. He clung to me, wrapping his arms and legs around me with his head buried in my shoulder. While I tried to comfort my boy, I knew then he was truly scared.

As I began to think about it more, I realized he had been either on the couch or on his brother’s bed all day. Normally he’s very active. He plays on the floor or flies his planes around our house. He’s very silly and loves to dress up like a superhero, then show us his “superspeed.” But he hadn’t been doing any of that today because he was scared of the cat. I knew then the cat had to go. I felt bad that my boy had been in fear all day. I was also saddened because the other kids and I fell in love with this cat. She had such a sweet personality. We loved having her around. I felt like I had to choose between my son being scared all the time or my other three kids being brokenhearted. However, the deal was everyone in the family had to be okay with whatever pet we got. I couldn’t have my son living in fear.

Since I also really wanted to keep our new found friend, I tried talking to my son. I let him know the cat wouldn’t hurt him. She just wanted to play with him. He told me he liked the kitty but didn’t want her to jump on the couch with him or run around. There was just no way to get him to understand he didn’t need to be afraid. His maturity level couldn’t comprehend that he wasn’t in any real danger. I walked to the back of the house to break the sad news to the other kids. There were tears all around. Even I cried as we relished the last hours we had with the cat we called Sadie. It’s amazing how quickly we fell in love with her.

My heart ached. I was torn for all of my children. It seemed there would be no winners here, no matter what choice was made. I went back to the front of the house where my four-year-old was keeping a safe distance from Sadie. He had no idea of the tears and sadness going on. I wanted to be angry at him for being afraid but reminded myself he was only four. It’s my job as his parent to give him the best environment to grow in. I couldn’t make him live with something he feared. Whether that fear was truly dangerous or not. He had to feel safe in his own home.

All of this thinking about fear made me wonder…what kinds of fears are running around in me? How have my fears affected people close to me and I wasn’t even aware of it? I know I fear things—silly things, real things. Fear has been one of the things I’ve dealt with often in my life. Yet, my God is patient with me and the things I fear. Once in awhile I know He’s working with me on fear. The antidote for fear is faith, trust, and love.

There’s a saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, the devil gets you to believe his lies. When you do, fear enters your heart. God, however, has given us the Bible to show us what truth is. When we build our faith upon the truth of His Word, lies are broken. Sometimes the Lord has broken my fear by disarming lies the enemy has been crafty to feed me.

At other times fear is not an issue of believing lies, but of trusting God. All of us face situations where we have to choose if we will trust God with the outcome. Being a parent is an opportunity to trust God. Trust Him with your child’s future, current provisions, well-being, health, on and on you could go with this list. God has shown my husband and I time and time again that the Great I Am is worthy of our trust through providing for us both needs and wants.

Still other times He’s dealt with my fears by sweetly showing me over and over His unconditional love for me. He sends down what I call “kisses from Heaven” to show me His love. Sometimes it’s in a song or a friend saying they prayed for me. The littlest thing can be kisses that shatter my fears with His unending love for me. God’s perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18)

Just as I don’t want my child to live in fear, neither does the Lord want His children living in fear. Fear is not from God. Fear pulls you inward. It puts you in defense mode. Just like it did with my son when he wasn’t being his normal playful self. Fear keeps you from living free—from being who God created you to be. This is not how God wants His people to live. Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives and release prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 NIV), to set the oppressed free and break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6b NIV). Jesus came to give us life and to give it abundantly. (John 10:10) God wants you to be free from fear.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4 (NIV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 (King James 2000 Bible)

The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)