Starving your Fears

“Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.” - Max Lucado

My 10-year-old son recently fasted from video games.

Now, he didn’t come up with this idea on his own… nor was I the one who suggested it. But at the urging of someone he trusted, Sam decided to fast from gaming for 4 full days.

Why? As an experiment.

For the past few weeks, he’d been having nightmares and feeling more anxious than usual. Tears and frustration were sitting right under the surface. He found himself scared to be in his room at night.

Sam was dealing with the spirit of FEAR.

And while it’s not a new struggle, it was getting out of hand. So the idea of fasting from video games was the perfect opportunity to see if they were the catalyst for Sam’s worries.

Knowing our son’s battle with fear, we are mindful in what he’s exposed to. His game time is strictly regulated and we have stringent standards for which video games he can play. Movies and television shows are closely monitored and we stay away from books that talk about monsters and evil.

But something was feeding that fearful spirit… and we needed to determine exactly what it was.

“Sam, if video games are somehow causing this fear and anxiety… then a fast from playing will starve them to death. The fear will simply go away.”

The landscape of those four days looked different.

We played Monopoly… a lot. He built countless Lego creations. We sat and talked as a family about what God was revealing to Sam through this time. The kids put on “shows” for me and my husband. Our basement got cleaned out.

But more importantly, we discovered that we did indeed starve that fear.

During the fast, he didn’t have any bad dreams. He was more courageous to stand up to his fearful thoughts and speak truth in response to the lies. Sam was calmer and not as close to tears.

The spirit of fear starved because we removed its food source.

What is causing fear in your life?
• Fear of saying “yes” to what God is asking?
• Fear of being abandoned in your relationships?
• Fear of walking away from that addiction?
• Fear of financial ruin because of mounting bills?

When you allow that fear to fester untouched, you are continuing to feed it.

When you feed it, you are permitting it to grow.

And when you let it grow, it begins to overtake your thoughts and actions.

That’s not God’s design.

“For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

The spirit of fear isn’t from God. As a matter of fact, He gave us all we need to overcome it.

And part of that is the ability to starve it.

Sam still plays video games from time to time, but they’re not as important as they used to be. They’ve been exposed as a potential fear trigger. And at a moment’s notice, they will find themselves benched if need be.

What fears do you need to starve?


Lets Pray for Our Kids

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine presented me with a 2-sided, off-centered, black and white copy of a copy 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.  The top of one side read, 31 Biblical Virtues to pray for your kids.

Her and I talk frequently about parenting, how to be better moms, how to deal/cope/handle the different personalities of our precious-little-nuggets -- SO, of course the piece of paper looked to be something worth taking action on...praying specific Biblical virtues for our children.

Admittedly, I folded the piece of paper in half, tucked it into my Bible and didn't look at it again...

...UNTIL a week ago.

You see, my same sweet friend that gave me that piece of paper, last week shared with me that she had dusted off her piece of paper and stated to talk with her 3 kids {ages 3-7}, every morning at breakfast, about these virtues.

She told me that some of the virtues they don't really understand, but others they do -- she also shared that she's seeing fruit as a result of their daily discussions as they are interacting with others they come in contact with.

This encouraged me and fueled me to do something too!

Here’s what I did. I unpacked a “virtue” a day and discussed the daily virtue with my two little nuggets. I wrote about the life changing journey and share my reflection here, with you via email for 31 Days!

Do you want to JOIN me?

There is...P O W E R...in prayer.

Let's pray these Biblical virtues, these scriptures, into the lives of our nuggets.  If it's appropriate and doable, lets create awareness in our children's lives by talking with them openly about these virtues.

I had my amazingly talented graphic designer Sue create this picture for us to make it easy to follow along...

Whether your children are young or old, whether you're expecting or hope to be expecting, whether the children in your life are biologically yours, adopted, step, or they are just precious to you -- you can join in and pray for them!!

Are YOU IN?

Will YOU journey with me and watch how God shows up as we seek Him and believe in Him for our children?

IF so, simply fill out the form below with the date you want to start!  You will receive a FREE printable version of the graphic/poster + an email from me everyday for 31 Days to encourage you along the way with my daily virtue reflection.

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." - Chuck Swindoll

* These 31 virtues were written by Bob Hostetler and published by NavPress to learn more about the author go to his website, follow him on twitter, or connect with him on facebook.  They also offer prayer cards to purchase, you can find them here.


Are You a Fan or a Follower?

In the few moments I had between Kid's Praise and busy kids, I heard an interview on Christian radio that really caught my attention.

Kyle Idleman, teaching minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky was being interviewed about the question: Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus Christ?

Maybe it's because "Tebow fever" is still in the air or maybe it's because we've just completed another Superbowl season, but...

...the question stuck with me.

I began to think about some of the differences between a fan and a follower:

  • A fan is a enthusiastic, jumping on the bandwagon and cheering when things are great. A follower doesn't waver. She sticks close, even when the outcome doesn't look favorable.
  • A fan knows about someone. A follower knows someone.
  • A fan loves the fun, but a follower is willing to work.

For a lot of people, it's easy to jump on the "Jesus bandwagon" -- to go to church and participate in events, to say the right things around the right people and act the part when others are looking, but when the rubber meets the road and life gets hard or popular opinion turns against us, do we stick with Him?

Idleman pointed out that a fan is close enough to be associated with Jesus, but not close enough that it requires something of me. Is this where so many of us hold back?

When it comes time to do something, to speak up or surrender or sacrifice, are we willing? Are we willing to quit sitting on the sidelines cheering and instead jump into the game, even if it means getting bloodied and bruised?

I have often been struck by Jesus' words in Matthew 7, a passage that Idleman also referenced. Upon first reading it, Jesus words seem harsh and rough, but isn't He here drawing that same distinction between fan and follower?

"Knowing the correct password--saying 'Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what my Father wills. I can see it now--at the Final Judgement thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.' - Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)

The New International Version translates verse 23 as saying, "I never knew you!"

"True knowing comes down to the relationship where Jesus is what matters most" - Kyle Idleman

A fan knows about Jesus. A follower knows Him.

So how do you know if you are a fan or a follower? What is the litmus test to measure our role? We might feel like followers, but to what, or Whom, does the evidence of our lives point?

During the interview, Idleman shared three symptoms that might suggest I'm a fan rather than a follower.

  1. You might be a fan if you confuse your knowledge with intimacy. Just because you know about Jesus doesn't mean that you have a close relationship with Him.
  2. You might be a fan if you have a hard time identifying any sacrifices you've made for Jesus -- it's never really cost you anything.
  3. You might be a fan if you find that you're comfortable. We are called to carry a cross. Shouldering a cross should not be comfortable! There are times we have to step out of our comfort zones.

We can stop being fans and become true followers, and we don't have to do it on our own! For so many of us, we try and try and try only to feel like we come up short and fail again. The blessed news is that we don't transition from fans to followers on our own or by our individual strength!

It is God's grace that invites us, and God's Spirit that gives us the strength to follow.

"We want to make it trying when it really is dying" - Idleman

Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is not about working and trying harder. It's about surrendering each and every day, beginning each day on our knees with a spirit of humility. Sometimes it's not about doing; it's about being.

Abide in Him (John 15).

"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit--but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards." - Matthew 7:24-27 (MSG)

I don't want to just know about Jesus. I want to know Him.
How about you?

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{Idleman has a lot more to say on the topic of fan versus follower. In fact, he's written a whole book on it -- Not A Fan. If you'd like to investigate this idea more deeply, check it out.}


Beautiful: The Mess We Are

"We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah."
- Amy Grant

Isn't it something to ponder; as Amy Grant so eloquently sings the lyrics above, that God really does want to hear all about our hurts, our sadness, our deepest darkest thoughts? We are relational beings, and the need to share our lives and connect with our hearts to other hearts is part of our experience as we walk through this life. It's normal to need to 'talk' issues out with those we love and trust. But have you ever had a hurt so deep that your need to 'process' and talk through it went beyond the 'expectation' of those you trusted to listen? Lets face it, sometimes we can tire each other out. So what then? Where do we turn?

"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus is where we turn. People my let us down...

...but God never will.

People may tire from our need to 'talk', but God will never tire of us. He loves us in a way that goes beyond our human understanding and experience. The truth is, we all grieve and process hurts and losses differently. There may be heart ache in your life that will take years to process and grieve, there is no shame in taking all the time you need to heal. I am not saying we should remain 'stuck' and wallow in our sadness. God's Words to us are many about the thoughts we think and how to heal...

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

But when we 'cast our cares upon Him' we have a loving Father who wants, really wants, our 'truth at the moment'. The lyrics in Amy Grants song really cut through and help us to see what an amazing and authentic Savior we have; and how He desires an intimate and authentic relationship with us.

...................................................................

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
better than a choir singin' loud
singin' loud

.....................................................

If you are hurting today, you have a safe place to run. God's arms are open wide and there is enough room for all of the hidden places in your heart. Pour it all to Him; 'The beautiful mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a Hallelujah' to Him.

Photo Credit: artchick2002