Humility and Anxiety… Are they Related??

I don’t know about you, but when the ‘storms’ of life come, I am more exhausted than ever, I don’t sleep very well. It’s ironic. My body is begging to go to sleep but my mind is off running a marathon. Has this ever happened to you?

So it’s shocking to me when I read Matthew 8:23-27 which talks about Jesus sleeping through the storm while the disciples ran around like crazy lunatics fearing for their lives. (Maybe I am a disciple just like the ones with Jesus? We apparently react to “storms” in similar ways.)

A few chapters later in Matthew we read…

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden in light.”   Matthew 11:28-30

I could pretty much get these verses tattooed on my forehead because they are that important.

But enough about my tattoos… let’s look at the verses again. In what sense was Jesus meek? How could meekness, or submission to the Father, give us rest for our souls?

How was Jesus “humble in heart”? How could such humility give us rest for our souls?

Is this a new idea for you…. that Christ offers to share the load of your burden on His own shoulders? How does it ease your burden to know that Jesus is carrying it with you?

In closing… let’s look at two of my all time favorite verses. Yes… I have a coffee cup with these words on it…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

WOW!! Could it be true? Might a lack of humility lead to anxiety in our lives? For me, sometimes anxiety has also lead to excessive busyness and I’ve claimed exhaustion as a status symbol. 

I wonder… how much of your busyness is related to anxiety? Are there things in your life you could let go of if you weren’t so anxious?

Peter tells us that we can cast our anxiety on Christ because God cares about the little things on your schedule and the to-do list that has become a burden and is robbing us of our rest in Him.

How willing are you to trust Him and put those burdens in His hands?

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The FLIP Side of Gossip

With tears in her eyes, my friend told me she needed to talk. She stumbled over her words as she shared the hurtful words she had heard. Words that were meant to tear down and divide.

The interesting thing… was that the words she shared were directed at me, her friend. She had personally witnessed the verbal sword thrusting and without telling me who was involved, she shared the pain that accompanied hearing this weapon exchange.

Now we can all offer our two cents on “what she should’ve done” as a witness of gossip, but truth is… she was hurt too. An innocent witness was hurt. Could it be possible that our sin affects more than we think?

In response to our conversation, I wrote my hurting friend a letter…

First of all… THANK YOU so much for sharing with me this morning! Please know that I don’t carry that as “weight” because I don’t take it personally. Thankfully, my identity, my worth, my value does not come from what other people think or say about me. Sure I’d love to be thought “well of”, but it’s not worth tearing others down to fight for a spot at “the top”.

The way I see it… if somebody is willing to gossip to you, it’s only a matter of time before they are willing to gossip about you.

Gossip, slander, and betrayal reflect what’s in your heart, other people’s actions are not to blame.

In your specific situation…. you have a “friend” who has wanted to “help” you as long as you are serving their needs (affirmation, approval, ‘secret information’, etc.). So at first, you are the HERO. They (co-workers/ friends/ family members/ neighbors, etc.) love you, and they are drawn to you! Only time will tell what is in their hearts and what their motives are. Everything is fine and dandy until you don’t meet this person’s (often unspoken/ unknown) expectations. So in a way… you exist to “serve” them and you have become an idol to them. Rejection is inevitable because you can never meet all of somebody’s expectations. This is unrealistic and unfair. Thus the cycle continues…

FRIEND–You are an extremely confident and joyful person and that can be threatening for people who are searching for significance and happiness.

My hope for you is that you don’t carry any shame or guilt in this unfortunate circumstance. Please know that this is more of a reflection of “them” and not of you. But it is a good reminder to all of us that our words can help or hurt. We are responsible for our words and our words reflect what’s in our heart. We can apologize for our part, but we don’t need to carry the weight of other people’s actions.

Obviously this is a toxic situation and you have smelt the nasty stench of jealousy and insecurity that gossip exudes.

Be encouraged today!!!! You are loved, appreciated and VERY well respected. THANK YOU is not sufficient, but it’s where I’ll start!

–Rebecca

P.s. Feel free to share this with anyone who might need some encouragement today. I know almost everybody struggles with this stuff at some point in life!

A Letter to the Church from a Public School Teacher

My name is Rebecca Hoehne. I am a follower of Christ and an educator in the public school system in California. I love my job, I love the staff I work with and I love the families I work with. But there is a problem.

Parents who intimidate, manipulate, and are looking for the easy way out!

Can I ask you a question? How does your calling as a Christ Follower impact your role as a parent of students? When assignments are due, do you throw your weight around in an e-mail because of “who you are” in the church?

I recently overheard my co-workers say that some of the most “high maintenance” families in the school find every excuse to not do school work yet find every opportunity to participate in church activities, trips, and programs.

Regardless of how you may feel about educational policies, curriculum choices, or leadership changes, please know that the people who invest in your children each and every day are made in the image of God. We have souls. Most of my co-workers do not know the love and truth about who Jesus is and the forgiveness available for our sins and the dynamic power available because of the cross. We are eager to be shown Jesus’ love and character through every interaction with you because we aren’t a part of your church activities.

Could it be possible that the school your children attend, the classes they take and even the teachers who (quite possibly) spend more time each day with your students than you do… All these details are perfectly orchestrated by a Sovereign God who “works all things together for His Good.”

From one parent to another…let us run this race with endurance and finish well. Whether we’re eating, or drinking, or interacting with our children’s teachers…. Let us do it ALL for the glory of God.

And believe me…. Our children are following us. The question is… where are we leading them?

They don’t need a perfect example, they need a living one!

What your words reveal about YOU

Did you know that the average person spends 1/5 of their life… TALKING! If all our words were put into print in a single day… the result would be a 50 page book. That’s AVERAGE! I always thought my children were “above average” and this confirms it!

Obviously God made us to be communicating creatures who communicate via words because we are constantly thinking, constantly talking and constantly sharing what we think with others.

If 1/5th of your life will be spent with your mouth open, that’s a lot of opportunity to bless people and a lot of opportunity to hurt people. So it’s no surprise that God’s Word (the Bible) has some things to say about how we use 1/5th of our lives.

James 1:19  “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry.”

In the last few years, there’ve been hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stories of teenagers, college students, and adults who have ended their lives not because of deep depression, not because of chemical imbalance, but because of constant belittling, mocking, and tearing down by other people either via social media or in their life. It led them to take their own lives. Words have the power of life and death!

Proverbs 18:21  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Words not only have the power of life and death, but they have the power to wound or to heal. Words can wound and all of us can think back to a time when someone said something to us that cut so deep, it still affects us.

Proverbs 12:18  “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I wonder how many times I’ve wounded others with my “sword”. How many times have I lashed out in anger because I felt afraid? Because I felt threatened? Disrespected? Under appreciated?

If you tear down everything and don’t build something in it’s place, you’ll end up homeless.

Luke 6:45 says “…for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth SPEAKS”

So if 1/5th of our lives are spent talking, the words that come out of our mouths, they come from our hearts… that is why they are so powerful! They’re saying from our heart to another soul…  This is what I think about you!

Think about how good a gift this is from God. You don’t have to wonder if you have an angry heart. You don’t have to wonder if you have a jealous heart. You don’t have to wonder what’s going on. Your words reveal it!

What drives your mouth is your heart. What drives your heart is your identity.

But THE GOSPEL makes all the difference. The Gospel can make us an edifier and an encourager. It sets us free to rejoice in gladness in a way that a wrong identity never can.

As we grow in an understanding that Christ’s love and forgiveness rests on us and that who I am first and foremost is a child of God, adopted by God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Then…. I’m a wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, speaker, neighbor, etc.

If I can anchor myself in what God has said about me in Christ, that I am HIS, that I am ACCEPTED, that I am LOVED, that HE is for me, not against me, that all my sins were absorbed in Christ on the cross…. now my mouth begins to change.

I don’t need _________________ to be my Savior, I already have one! So when ______________ doesn’t measure up to my standards, I don’t have to wound ____________ with my words.

When I come across someone who is better than me, I don’t have to tear them down with my “sword”. I get to celebrate their obedience in CHRIST! I’m free to be an edifier and encourager because who I am can’t be threatened! I’m secure in CHRIST!

Therefore, I put people around me that are stronger/ more talented/ more gifted than I am because they are not a threat to me. It’s actually going to sharpen me. I’m going to rejoice in the gifts and abilities of others, not see them as threatening.

On the contrary, if my identity in not anchored in Christ, then I will have no choice but to point out the weaknesses of others because I will always be fighting for significance, power, and recognition.

So let me ask some questions:

  • Have you been set free to rejoice in others?
  • How’s your heart? Are you angry? Jealous? Desperate? Sad? Needy?
  • Is your identity set in Christ or do you incessantly feel like you have to point out the weaknesses of others, the weaknesses of your church, the weaknesses of your family, the weaknesses of your school, the weaknesses of your neighborhood?
  • Are you an expert in all that is wrong?

AN IDENTITY IN CHRIST CHANGES HOW YOU SEE THE WORLD!

God can’t get any bigger…. but my view of Him CAN!

” The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”          – 2 Corinthians 10:4,5

What’s a stronghold you might ask?

Well, that’s a great question! It’s basically an argument or pretension that sets itself in our minds, “pretending” to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel …

Overpowered.

Controlled.

Mastered.

It may be an addiction, unforgiveness towards a person who has hurt you, despair over a loss, or anything that consumes so much of your emotional and mental energy that…

Abundant Life is strangled.

Therefore, your calling remains largely unfulfilled and your believing life is virtually ineffective.

This is the goal of the enemy.

The goal of our warfare as stated in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is to steal back our thought life and take it captive to Christ instead. The enemy’s chief target is the mind because the most effective way to influence behavior is to influence thinking. Our minds are the control center of our entire beings. The enemy knows far better than we do that nothing is bigger or more powerful than God. That’s why everything that “exalts itself” in our thought life is called a “pretension”. Satan plays make-believe. He can only pretend because he lost all rights to presume authority over the believer’s life when Christ,

“having disarmed the powers and authorities… made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”   –Colossians 2:15

Repeat after me… NOTHING IS BIGGER OR MORE POWERFUL THAN GOD! Absolutely NOTHING!

Not even the strongest addiction or overwhelming feeling of rage. Everything in your life is commanded to bow to the authority of Christ. I finally have learned (and am still learning) that the way to make our exalted, overpowering thoughts bow down in obedience to Jesus Christ is to think His thoughts about the matter rather than my own or those influenced by the enemy.

I cannot encourage you enough to PRAY SCRIPTURE!

In praying Scripture, I not only find myself in intimate communication with God, but my mind is being retrained, or renewed.

Do not conform 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, pleasingand perfect will.

–Romans 12:2

As I think His thoughts about my situation rather than mine, He resumes His proper place in my thought life as huge and indomitable and my obstacle shrinks.

Which Scripture will you pray today?

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10 signs you might be MATURE

Is there a difference in what it means to be childish vs. childlike??

 1 Corinthians 13:11 addresses CHILDISHNESS:

            “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

Matthew 18:3 addresses the benefits of CHILDLIKE characteristics.

            “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Childlike is a desirable trait, which involves celebrating details,

innocence, and having wide-eyed wonder like a child.

Childish is synonymous with immature.

Here’s top 10 reasons you might be MATURE!

  1. Maturity is unshaken by flattery or criticism.

Do you need people to tell you how good you are? This is very dangerous! If you are addicted to approval, it shows your identity is in what others think of you.

  1. Maturity has the ability to delay gratification.

          Patience only grows by learning to be patient. How are you at waiting for something? Do you respond or react to a situation?

  1. Maturity can keep commitments for the long-term.

          How are you at being faithful to a job even if it’s tedious? When the “honeymoon” phase has worn off, do you still diligently work hard at the task at hand?

  1. Maturity’s signature mark is a Spirit of Humility!

          Don’t think less of yourself; think about yourself less! If you feel like you always need to give your opinion, this is a sign of pride/ immaturity. Maturity says “it’s not about me and my area of interest… there is a bigger picture here.”

  1. Maturity is not ruled by emotions.

          Emotions are a great servant, and a terrible master. Don’t be mastered by your emotions. Instead, have a consistency and stability to your emotions and you will impact the lives of the people around you.

  1. Maturity expresses it’s gratitude constantly.

Ultimately EVERYTHING we have is ALL the LORD’S, so a mature person has no time for entitlement, they are too busy giving THANKS! Immaturity says “You’re lucky to have me”.

  1. Maturity prefers others.

A mature person recognizes that promotion doesn’t come from anybody or anything, but rather from THE LORD. God opens doors that no man can shut. This releases us from the desire/ need to always have to be in the spotlight.

  1. Maturity is teachable.

When your weaknesses are revealed/highlighted, do you see this as an opportunity for God’s strength to shine through? An immature person wants to always explain why/ how and make excuses. Do you have a “know-it-all spirit” or a “Tell-me-more spirit”?

  1. Maturity is responsible.

          Do you execute your tasks fully so you can take on more responsibility? If your emotions are caught up in drama (unforgiveness, unresolved conflict, anger, rejection, the past, lust, greed, insecurity, doubt, etc. etc.) then God can’t give you more responsibilities because you’ve reached your emotional capacity.

  1. Maturity brings FREEDOM!
    Mature people won’t need to be micro-managed and they will gain freedom in more areas in their life! The more mature roots you display, the more responsibility you’ll be given.

Only God… ( a cool story)

I love it when something happens that you could NEVER arrange by yourself. This happened to me recently.

With my vanilla soy no water hot chai latte in hand, I curled my legs up under me and settled in to my favorite oversized chair in my favorite Starbucks. The sun was beginning to peak over the mountain and I could feel the heat on my face. With my oldest children safely under the supervision of their amazing teachers and my baby daughter and husband at home (still asleep), this was what I lovingly refer to as  “alone time”. My laptop was open, I was about to work on my resume, but first, I wanted to drink in my favorite form of caffeine and feast on the Word of The Lord.

My Bible was open to Psalm 63 and I paused at verse 8.

           “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

I was genuinely curious so I asked God… “What does your right hand look and feel like in my world?”

You see, I am in a season of life right now with some unknowns. It’s fair to say that I’m in a waiting and hoping season. So when I get to a verse, or even a chapter like Psalm 63, it feels like water is washing over my dry bones. So I paused.

I marinated in these verses for awhile and asked the Lord to reveal Himself.

Suddenly, I’m interrupted from my “marinating” to a gentlemen who asks (pointing at the chair right next to me) “Who is sitting right here?”

Me: “You are sir!”

(Honestly, I was kind of surprised someone had even asked to sit in that chair because of the way the chairs were positioned, it looked like I was expecting someone. I wasn’t. Anyways…)

Gentleman: “Well, Thank You!”

He set down his phone, keys, and pastry in the pink envelope. Then his name is called which indicates his drink is ready. Upon return to his chair, I notice his shirt  is embroidered with the name of a particular school. This caught my eye because I was finalizing details on an application for employment to work at this particular school. So I took a mental note that if a conversation started, then I would ask him what it is like to work there.

I returned to my journal and Bible and asked God for a clear sign that would show me what it is like to be upheld by His Right Hand.

Just then, my new seat mate picked up his pastry which caused the pink envelope to fall on the ground which happened to be right by my foot. Since I was looking for an open door, I quickly bent down to pick it up and hand it to him.

Me: “Here you go sir”

Him: “Thank You. That was nice of you.”

Me: “No problem! Hey- I noticed that your shirt says ____________. Do you work there?”

Him: “Well… kind of…. (long pause)… I’m the Superintendent of _________ school district.”

Me: (after picking my jaw off the ground and singing a few rounds of HALLELUJAH in my head) “OH! Ummm… That’s great! How long have you worked there?”

This kicked off a great conversation in which I got to hear stories about his life and he asked about mine.

Towards the end, I brought up the fact that I am applying for a job in his district. He was extremely encouraging and interested in this unique encounter. He took down my name.

I realized that JUST MAYBE…God might have orchestrated this meeting to remind me that HE is over EVERY DETAIL and He really does “uphold me with His Right Hand.”

Thank You Jesus! And Starbucks!

Reader, be encouraged today!

Do you have a story to share? Please leave a comment! We’d love to celebrate with you!