Category Archives: Faith

3 Truths to Set You Free From Anxiety

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The Problem

No one likes to feel anxious. As soon as worry sets in, your heart races, your palms sweat, and your lunch turns sour in your stomach. Over time, this feeling can become debilitating, causing a downward spiral in your health and social interactions.

Yet God tells us repeatedly in His Word that we should not fear. In fact, the only thing we are told to fear is God Himself—and that kind of fear is a holy reverence, not a fearful fight-or-flight response. (See Deuteronomy 6:13 and 13:4.)

Still, we deal with fear every day. Here in the U.S., many of us struggle with fears like these:

1. That we don’t have enough stuff.
2. That we don’t have what others have.
3. That others want what we have, so we must guard it carefully.
5. That we have to hoard a lot of stuff to ensure we’ll have it when we need it.

In other words, we’re consumed with consumerism.

We serve it like an idol, both afraid of it and compelled to act on its behalf. (Read more in my recent posts on fear and simplicity.)

The Freedom

In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster states that we can experience freedom from consumer-based anxiety by practicing the spiritual discipline of simplicity:

“As Jesus made so clear in [Matthew 6:25-33], freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking the kingdom of God first. The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know that liberty. It has nothing to do with abundance of possessions or their lack. It is an inward spirit of trust.”

Once you’ve put God first in your life, you can begin to see your possessions in a new light. To help you exorcise the anxiety and find freedom from consumerism, I’ve developed the following list of truths based on what Foster calls the “inner attitudes.”

1. “Everything I have is a gift from God.”

Think of everything you value—not just your phone and your car, but your family, experiences, education, and job. You may have worked hard to get where you are, but don’t be fooled into thinking you did all this by yourself.

Ultimately, it was God who gave you these things. It was His breath that gave you life. His spark that gave you intelligence and emotions. His desire that filled your heart, and His grace that keeps you going. (See Psalm 37:4-5, Matthew 7:7-11, and 1 Timothy 4:4.)
Thank God for all the wonderful things in your life, for they are a sign of His mercy and love for you. Then let your thankfulness turn to the deeper emotion of compassion for those who live without the luxuries you enjoy.

2. “God is the Boss.”

When you have a job, you’re responsible for showing up on time and getting your work done. But when you own the company, you’re responsible for everything—from keeping the lights on to employee safety.

Fortunately for us, God is the Boss in His Kingdom. You may have belongings to maintain, a career to develop, and relationships to nurture, but you perform these tasks as a manager. At the end of the day, God is the Architect and Protector of your life and everything in it. (See Psalm 127:1.) Your job is to show up and be obedient. (See Luke 12.)

Imagine, for a moment, all the belongings and relationships in your care. Now, add God to the picture—not as a bystander but as the Boss. You’re His representative, but He’s the One in Charge. You can trust Him to take care of you and to give you direction. Let that fact permeate your spirit until you’re filled with His peace.

3. “My belongings have a purpose.”

Clothes and shoes are meant to be worn, books are meant to be read, and furniture is meant to be used. Yet we fill our closets, basements, and storage units with these valuable items. We spend time organizing them, we pay to insure and store them, and we agonize over what to do with them. Meanwhile, there are people in our own communities who go without.

God calls each of us to be generous but, before you can do that, you have to realize that your belongings have a purpose. It’s certainly not sinful to have multiple pairs of shoes or a stack of unread books (I sure do). However, it is important that you become aware of the needs around you and your power to fill those needs with the very items God has entrusted to your care. (See 1 Timothy 6:18-19.)

Here’s a short prayer to help you foster these inner attitudes of simplicity:

“God, thank you for all the belongings, experiences, and relationships you have given me. I didn’t earn them, and I don’t deserve them, yet you have given them freely to me. Now, please give me wisdom to manage them appropriately, and help me to acknowledge that you are the Boss, not me. Please soften my heart to those in need around me and give me the means and courage to help them as you see fit. I surrender my anxiety to you and gladly accept your freedom. In the name of Jesus, who gave all He had for me. Amen.”

 

[Click to Tweet: Don’t be consumed by consumerism. Seek spiritual #simplicity. #faithlife #bigsisterknows]

 


This post includes content from my book Girls with Gusto (click here to learn more). It comes from the section “Practice Simplicity,” which is step five of eight in the spiritual journey.

 

3 Things Every Christian Should be Prepared For

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The following blog was first seen on KristenHogrefe.com. Thanks so much to Kristen for hosting this and sharing it with her readers! Check out her site for more encouragement and godly challenges!


 

Last week, Florida had its first measurable snow fall in nearly 30 years! Although we only received a tenth of an inch here in Tallahassee, a long section of Interstate 10 was closed for hours, FSU canceled classes, and several schools closed for the day.

Of course, social media was a-buzz as northerners made fun of us for making a big deal out of such a small amount of snow and ice. But the truth is that we weren’t prepared for this kind of weather—and we never are. That’s because the potential for it is too low to justify the expense of preparing for it.

This experience got me thinking about the topic of preparation, and I wondered what the Bible said about spiritual preparation. After a little research, I found the following three things that every Christian should be prepared for.

 

1 – Prepare to see Jesus. 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7 NAS).

We may witness the Second Coming of Jesus, or we may pass on to Heaven before He returns. Either way, we will see Jesus face to face one day!

So, how do we get ready to meet our Savior? Through “sanctification,” which is the process of becoming holy. In his best-selling book, The Pursuit of Holiness, author Jerry Bridges states that “Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” This is something we must do, not something that is done to us. (See Ephesians 4:20-24 and 1 Peter 1:14-16.)

Here are four ways we can pursue holiness in our lives:

  • Know God’s Word. Meditate on it and commit as much to memory as we can. (Psalm 119:15-16).
  • Focus on Jesus and everything else will fall into place. (1 Peter 1:13 NAS).
  • Do good deeds with a sincere heart. (1 Timothy 6:18 NAS).
  • Stand firm against evil but prepare for peace. (Ephesians 6:14-16 NAS). 

 [Click to Tweet: Are you ready to meet Jesus face to face? #faith #bigsisterknows]

 

2 – Prepare to pay the cost.

In The Cost of Discipleship, author Dietrich Bonhoeffer states that true grace “is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life…Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son…and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

As followers of Jesus, we must walk in godly discipline. Here are a few ways we can prepare ourselves to pay the cost of our discipleship.

  • Be disciplined. (Hebrews 12:4-7)
  • Carry our individual crosses. (Luke 14:27)
  • Commit all that we have to the Lord. (Luke 14:33)
  • Trust in God and do not fear (1 Peter 3:14-15)

[Click to Tweet: True grace is costly because it cost God the life of his Son. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer #grace #quote #bigsisterknows]

 

[Click to Tweet: What has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer #grace #quote #bigsisterknows]

 

3 – Prepare to share the Gospel.

It is not enough that we believe in Jesus; we must also introduce others to Him. Regardless of your calling or your role in the church, make sure you are willing and able to share the Gospel and to mentor other believers in your sphere of influence. 

“I solemnly charge you…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 NAS).

[Click to Tweet: It is not enough that we believe in Jesus; we must also introduce others to Him. #crosslife #bigsisterknows]

 

Resolve to Prepare

It rarely snows in Florida, so it makes sense that we would be less prepared than northern states.

But as Christians, being unprepared doesn’t make any sense at all. If we truly love the Lord, why wouldn’t we want to draw close to Him, to be like Him, and to introduce others to Him?

If this list seems daunting, though, don’t worry! The first step is to write down the Scriptures so you can study and meditate on them throughout the year. You may also want to check out The Pursuit of Holiness and The Cost of Discipleship referenced above.

As always, ask for God’s help and guidance. You can pray something simple like this:

“Father God, you said that I should make myself ready for your return, to pay the cost of discipleship, and to share the Gospel. Please soften my heart and harden my resolve that I would be prepared for all the wonderful things you want to accomplish in my life and through it. Let everything I do glorify You. In the name of Jesus, who was and is and is to come. Amen.”

[Click to Tweet: As Christians, being unprepared doesn’t make any sense at all. #crosslife #bigsisterknows]

Are you resolved to prepare yourself spiritually? What methods or tools are you using to help you get started and stay on track?

 

The Meaning of Christmas

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I wrote the following blog post in 2015 to explore the meaning of Christmas and the role of Jesus in the Christmas story (and in our lives today). I hope this blesses you today as you prepare for yet another Christmas day and the new year ahead.

Big Sister Knows

Sue_Christmas2011 Our first Christmas with Sue, 2011. She loves Christmas (but not the Santa hat).

I admit it: I’m hooked on Christmas movies. I like the sweet, funny, crazy ones, even the low budget ones. I appreciate that they’re wholesome and family-focused, with themes about forgiveness, love, and generosity.

Most Christmas TV shows and movies tell us Christmas is a time for:

  • Gifts
  • Children
  • Forgiveness and second chances
  • Rebirth and renewal
  • Telling the truth
  • Falling in love
  • Being generous with the needy
  • Hope and faith
  • Family traditions
  • Wishes and miracles
  • Christmas spirit.

All of this is nice, but it’s incomplete. The truth about Christmas is so much bigger and more meaningful.

Words of Meaning

The term “Christmas” comes from “Christ mass,” or a church service in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The word “Christ” is a descriptive title that means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.” The Jews were looking for…

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