Tag Archives: fear

How do we increase our faith?

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(Old Testament trash talk)

You know when God teaches you something in his Word and you just want to share it? This is one of those posts because it’s my blog and I can do what I want to.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel lately because it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible because, well, David. I can’t help but love the guy. Anyway, I get to the story of David and Goliath and God showed me something in that story that I never knew. Don’t you love when God does that? He takes a story you’ve heard since childhood and makes you see it in a completely new way.

I always assumed David was afraid, even though I knew he volunteered to fight Goliath. Like he was shaking in his sandals and no armor, but God gave him the courage to slay the giant. After reading the text, I’m not so sure that was the case.

“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” 1 Sam. 17:48 ESV (emphasis mine)

He RAN QUICKLY. Basically he sprinted to meet Goliath, A GIANT, at the battle line. Scared people don’t sprint to meet their enemies. People who are fearful enter into battle carefully, with a well thought out plan. They may have summoned the courage to fight but they’re still sweating bullets when they enter onto the battlefield. No one shows up for a fight with a slingshot and a few little rocks and no armor to fight his opponent who is fully armed.

No one but David.

Was he just young and naïve? Rebel without a cause? Was he a teenager that thought he was going to live forever? Nope.

He was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would deliver the people of Israel. He was betting his very life on it. See, we have to back up a little in the story to understand why David would have such confidence. Earlier in the passage, Saul is trying to talk David out of fighting Goliath, reminding him he’s just a boy and Goliath is a man trained for war.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Sam. 17:34-37 ESV)

Oh, I’m sorry, did it say LIONS and BEARS? When hearing this story as a child I’m envisioning cartoon lions and bears. Like Simba and Baloo. It didn’t even seem real at the time. As an adult, if you told me my teenage son would be fighting off lions and bears to protect our families’ sheep, I would have a heart attack. Literally. I would also tell him to go ahead and say goodbye to sweet lamby because his mama ain’t gonna let him fight no wild animal. What kind of person fights lions and bears to save one little lamb? The person who has something to protect and, in this case, a person who knows he cannot lose.

David goes on to say:

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)

Whoop there it is. David remembered.

How did David know God would help him defeat Goliath? Because He had done it before against lions and bears. David remembered God’s faithfulness to him in the past, which gave David faith for the present. David was certain of God’s faithfulness to him. He knew he was beloved by the Father and that the Father would protect him and deliver the people of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. Oh to have that kind of faith! The kind that assures me that I can do the hard, scary things and God will show up. He always shows up for His kids.

Want to increase your faith? Remember a time when God has been faithful to you. Recall a time He came to your rescue. God is always faithful even when we are not. We are his beloved sheep that He gave His own Son’s life to save…before we even knew him.

We would do well to face our giants like David.

RUN QUICKLY to the battle line.

REMEMBER God’s past faithfulness.

BE CERTAIN of victory.

This is how we face our fears. This is how we move mountains. We may not win the battle every time. We may very well crash and burn. This doesn’t mean God didn’t show up. It just means He has other plans. There is much to learn when we feel we’ve been defeated and we take that with us as we go into our next battle. My internal victories are far more significant than my outward successes by a long shot. I think when God spoke of the “work He has planned for us” (Eph. 2:10), much of it was on ourselves, in our hearts. And rest easy, God has already slain the enemy. Victory is oursWhat’s the mountain facing you?

-Courtney

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What Anxiety and Fear tell me

 

Publishing a book and marketing it feels like I’m standing in a fire. To say it makes me “uncomfortable” would be the understatement of my life. Social media is easy; I can sit and hide behind my computer and promote the book all the livelong day. Doing a signing, or a reading, or most recently, a radio show, gives me the sweats and the gags. On my way to any of these events, I sweat and feel tingly all over and fear I might pass out. It’s in these moments that I pray as profusely as I sweat. Asking God for help, guidance, words, anything that will ease my current condition. I have never been more aware of my need for God’s presence and peace in my life. It has occurred to me over the last month that God will not lead us into a fire where He Himself will not go. Sometimes fire is where we find God. Growth in my faith has never happened when my life has been easy. I love easy, but my problem is that easy makes me real proud of myself. I get puffed up and think my life is working out this way because I did something to make it this way. No, you misguided little thing, you had nothing to do with it at all.

So as much as I love a cake life, it’s not where God is. God is in the hard places and if I want to be with Him, I’ve got to go there too. Right now, God, in my life, is sitting squished between Anxiety and Fear and He’s calling me to meet Him there. God is sitting smack dab in the middle of the 2 things in my life that tell me I CAN’T. I don’t like sitting in between Anxiety and Fear; they’re bullies and they lie. They tell me my nerves WILL get the best of me. They tell me I WILL screw it up. They tell me that no one wants to hear what I have to say. They tell me all the same things they’ve told me before. Their central message is: You aren’t good enough to do the things you want to do so you shouldn’t even try.

But God.

But God tells me in Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

Then I’m reminded of what God’s word says about work in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

How can I believe the lies of Anxiety and Fear when God clearly tells me that He will help me? He’s also told me that I am His handiwork and He’s got stuff for me to do here. Who am I to say His handiwork, His creation, is not good enough to do His work? If He created me to do it, He must feel pretty confident that with His help, I can accomplish the task set before me.

Then God reminds me of the most important thing: It’s not about me at all, it’s about Him. It’s my responsibility to obey. That’s it. The successes or failures of my pursuits in life aren’t measured by the world. My successes and failures are measured by whether or not I choose to follow His leading. The minute I judge success by the world’s standards is the minute my soul gets antsy and full of unrest. This is when I try to take over and make my pursuits just that—MY pursuits. When I assume all responsibility for a task, one of two things will happen. I will either get prideful because I’m experiencing some success or I will feel shame because I’m experiencing failure. Pride or shame. These are my options when I’m in charge.

When I take the time to remember that my only job is to say “yes” and He’ll take care of the rest, I’m able to breath. I still sweat of course, but I like to think of it as fear leaving my body. It’s really unfortunate I have so much fear leaving my underarms; I may never wear colored clothing again. It’s freeing to be able to hand the pressure over to God and say “Here, this is on you now.” Unlike us, God has never felt pressure in His entire existence. He’s not worried that we’re going to screw up His work. We don’t have the whole story so what may look like failure to us, may just be God writing humility, not shame, into our story. For the record, these are my least favorite writing segments from the Lord but they are awfully good teachers.

So that’s where I’m at, guys. Right in between Fear and Anxiety, waiting for God to quiet their shouting.

 

Where is God sitting in your life?

-Courtney

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Dancing with Fear

Fear. It’s a powerful feeling. For me, it’s probably second only to love. It has the ability to cripple me if I choose to let it. It gives me thousands of excuses as to why I don’t need to chase dreams or do anything out of my comfort zone. Fear is a bully. Fear digs deep inside of me and plants seeds of doubt and anxiety so they will grow roots and attempt to strangle hopes and dreams that are planted deep down as well. Something interesting that I’m finding as I am chasing something God dreamed up a few years ago, is that hopes and fears are not mutually exclusive. They don’t have to be separate. They can coexist in my life and create enough tension to propel me forward. Hope is supernatural. There is no other reason for hope except that God placed it in our hearts through Christ. Fear is human. We fear because we are human beings that aren’t in control.

This year, 2016, I’m resolving to marry hope and fear in my life in order to give birth to courage. Courage doesn’t come in absence of fear nor can it come without hope. I must have both as a means to practice courage. Without fear, the dream is too easy and without hope I would be crushed under the weight my fear. I need both.

Some of you know, some of you don’t, that I have been trying to publish a children’s book in the last year. It has given me all the feelings. ALL OF THEM. It’s getting close to being finished and printed and I couldn’t be more excited/scared/humbled that this little story is coming full circle. I will tell you more as it gets closer to releasing but for now, I’m trying to live in the tension of hope and fear.

Much of this revelation came from a song I heard this year. It’s become one of my favorites and I hope you like it too. It’s by Ben Rector who is amazing and wonderful and talented and entertaining in concert. Appropriately the song is called “Fear.” My favorite line of the song says,

“I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from.”

This line spoke straight to my soul. Dancing with my fear. I’d never considered that I could do that. Thanks, Ben. If you have a couple of minutes, give it a listen. As a matter of fact, listen to the whole album. It’s well worth your time.

Here’s to doing things that require courage this year. Why not do something that seems scary and uncomfortable just to see how it turns out? More times than not, these are the things that grow us more into the people we want to become. On a side note, my family gave up desserts for the month of January and this is VERY SCARY. I don’t recommend courage in the form of “no desserts”; this is lunacy.

-Courtney

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Controversy

“Don’t let the world teach you theology.”

My pastor, Dr. Michael Easley, says this all the time at church. I’ve always loved this because it reminds me not to look to the world for truth, instead, I’m to look to the word of God. If I’m ever not sure of God’s will or don’t know what to believe, I can go to the Bible in search of God’s truth. Granted, there are some things that aren’t discussed in the Bible so I guess I won’t get an answer to some of my questions until I meet God in heaven, unfortunately.

That being said, I really didn’t want to write this post. Like really really didn’t want to write it. I am aware that what I’m about to write could very possibly alienate friends and family that are very dear to me. My view of them has not changed; they will always be amazingly wonderful people. My fear is that their view of me will change and that worries me a great deal since I’m one of those people who want everyone to like them. It’s a sickness, really. That’s why I try to be funny, I mean who doesn’t like funny? So please hear me when I say writing this post wasn’t easy or fun but I had that feeling about it. You know, that sick-to-your-stomach-makes-you-want-to-throw-up feeling. This feeling usually indicates that I’m supposed to do that thing I’m scared of. I hate this feeling but the only way to appease it is to do the thing I don’t want to do. So here goes.

I don’t know about you but there are many parts of the Bible I sort of wish weren’t in there. I wish it didn’t talk about gluttony being a sin because I like to overeat (Prov. 23:20-21). I don’t always want to turn the other cheek because I think it’s unfair (Matt. 5:39). It’s really hard not to exasperate my children when I’m having a bad day (Eph. 6:4). It’s difficult to see the benefit in not repaying evil with evil (1 Pet. 3:9). Doing things without complaining (Phil. 2:14)? Not my strong suit. Even if it’s only in my head, my complaining and grumbling sounds an awful lot like a pity party. Truth be told, I wish I could brush all of these under the rug because they don’t suit me all the time and I want to do what I want to do and not feel bad about it.

When the SCOTUS ruled last week in favor of legalizing gay marriage, part of me wanted to sweep what God’s Word says under the rug. A small part of me wished I could be on board with it because it’s getting celebrated all over the country and who doesn’t want to be part of a celebration? It seems so happy and fun. Then I had that thing in my stomach; the thing that reminds me I’m on the unpopular side of controversy. “Don’t let the world teach you theology.” So I looked up verses about marriage in the Bible half-hoping I missed the verse where God said “Marry whoever you want. #lovewins” Guys, there is no such verse and no such hashtag in God’s Word. God was clear about a marriage covenant being between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24). At no point in the Bible does He change His mind or wording on this. He always used a man and woman, a husband and wife, to be the representatives in marriage (Prv. 31:10-11, Eph. 5:22-33). It seems that any time in the Bible when God mentions things over and over it’s because He’s trying to make a point. And if I’m going to write about how my faith is rooted in the Word of God then I can’t skip over this. I have to take God at His word.

A long time ago I told God that I believed Jesus was His Son who died on a cross to save me from my sins, and rose from the dead to affirm He was the Son of God and the giver of eternal life. When I surrendered myself to this belief, I also surrendered my life. In doing this, I was telling God His way is better than my way, His thoughts are more important than my thoughts, and ultimately what He wants is more important than what I want. Now, hear me on this: I have a hard time with all of these and I most certainly don’t do them even close to perfectly. God never said that following Him would be easy but He said it would be worth it in the end. So I’m putting all my eggs in His basket and trusting that He will do what He says. But while I’m here living on this earth I made the decision to believe, and try to live by, what the Bible says. Again, I don’t do it all that well but it’s my understanding that’s what grace is for. My fear is that this post will come off like I’m some holier-than-thou punk. I’m well aware that Jesus died on that cross for the whole world, not just me, which let’s me know He loves all of us. And since I’ve chosen to believe this is true, I owe Him my life. I owe Him a life of obedience and gratitude for what He did for me.

So I believe marriage is a covenant before God between a man and a woman because that’s what the Bible says. I also believe that I am supposed to love others like Christ loved me because the Bible says that too. Remember how I said when you see repetition in the Word it’s because God is trying to make a point? Jesus tells us over and over to love one another. Don’t believe me? Read the book of John. God also tells us not to judge. Don’t believe me again? Read Romans 2. My (our, if you’re a believer in Christ) responsibility is to love. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I can’t love you. And vice versa.

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Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This is how I’m supposed to identify myself with Christ. I’m supposed to be kind and love those I disagree with. If I only love people I agree with wouldn’t that be just a tad superficial? The people Jesus hung out with were nothing like him but He loved them just the same. I have to live out what I believe, as do you. So thanks for letting me get my thoughts out so my stomach could get back to normal. And I’m fully aware some of you may quit reading my blog after today and that’s ok. Thanks for sitting in my headspace for a few minutes.

-Courtney

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The Scariest Place on Earth

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After several weeks off from writing, this chair is giving me anxiety. It’s the same feeling I get any time I take off from working out. When I’m working out consistently I feel great. I feel strong. I feel better about myself. Then I get busy, take a few weeks off, make excuses, and before I know it, i feel completely out of shape with no desire to go to an exercise class. I know I need to but I know what awaits me on the other side. The other side is going to be hard. It’s going to leave me sore in places I didn’t know could be sore. I’m going to sweat which means I, inevitably, will have to shower and rinse my hair (Ladies, you know what a task this is.)

Writing feels like this sometimes. When I’m in the groove, it can be amazing. I feel like my brain is buzzing with ideas and my fingers aren’t quick enough to type the words. Then I slack off for a bit. Summer comes. My kids are home all the time. I’m busy. I’m tired. I have excuses in spades as to why I can’t find time to write. Then all of a sudden my kids are at camp and I have a few days to myself. I find myself looking at that chair, glaring at it really. Why can’t I drag my tail off the couch and go sit in that chair and write? Because I’m out of practice. Because it’s going to be hard. Because I’m going to have to make my brain form sentences.

Ya’ll.

Making sentences seems easy. We do it all the time with our mouths. We spew words all day every day like it’s nothing. But try sitting down in front of a computer screen and typing letters to make words which will become sentences. Let me spare you the details and just tell you it can be painful. Keeping my tail in that chair can be painful. This is why I make excuses and avoid that chair like the plague.

But guess what? It’s time to get back in shape. It’s time to make sentences. It’s time to get my butt in that chair. Ok, here goes. Be gentle…

-Courtney

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