Fearless… Imagine Your Life Without Fear

With summer upon us, the hot temps have come with a vengeance and that means one thing in the Hoehne household… family naps! That’s right folks… Most days we have about a 2 hour “quiet time” where the kids and I split up into separate rooms to read &/or sleep. I also refer to this time as “happy hour”.

I decided to start a new book, so as I dusted off the covers of the books on my shelf and one book in particular caught my eye…

fearless

Do you know why it caught my eye? Because it was hot and the water looked refreshing. That’s it. I wish I was wherever this picture was taken, so I decided to read the book.

I quickly skimmed through the description of the book because  I wouldn’t classify myself as someone who struggles with fear. I like roller coasters, water slides, flying, traveling, and trying new foods. In my head… fear is for people “with issues”.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Boy did I have a lot to learn. So in this fantastic book, Max Lucado (one of my favorite authors) highlights 13 of our most common fears:

– Fear of Not Mattering

– Fear of Disappointing God

– Fear of Running Out

– Fear of Not Protecting My Kids

– Fear of Overwhelming Challenges

– Fear of Worst-Case Scenarios

– Fear of Violence

– Fear of the Coming Winter

– Fear of Life’s Final Moments

– Fear of What’s Next

– Fear that God is Not Real

– Fear of Global Calamity

– Fear of God Getting out of My Box

Holy Mother of Reality… I could relate to each one of these! How embarrassing! Because 5 minutes ago I was the self-proclaimed expert on “walking by faith, not by sight”. Now I was clinging to the book tightly and conspiring about how I could change my kids clocks so they would stay in their room longer so I could read about my plethora of “issues”.

Chapter 1 was a doozie. I’ll share with you just a few of the bombs that planted themselves right in the middle of my hypocritical garden of a heart.

Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. And it turns us into control freaks. “Do something about the storm!” is the implicit demand of the question. “Fix it or … or… or else!” Fear at its center, is a perceived loss of control. When life spins wildly, we grab for a component of life we can manage: our diet, the tidiness of our house, the armrest of a plane, or in many cases, people. The more insecure we feel, the meaner we become. We growl and bare our fangs. Why? Because we are bad? In part. But also because we feel cornered.”

(Page 9)

Ouch! This summer reading was coupling nicely with a Bible Study I’m doing about humility. The Lord has been gently and lovingly ‘yelling’ at me with a bullhorn that authentic humility practices aggressive confession.  Humility is the correct estimation of ourselves which results from a correct estimation of our God. In other words… I am coming to the deep realization of my unworthiness to receive God’s marvelous grace.

Thus began the practice of praying through Psalm 51 each morning. As I began to see a hint of the wickedness in my heart, I became more aware of my need for a Holy God. And this Holy God wants to make me like Himself! This is a big Big BIG task… but He created the Universe, so I don’t doubt His ability level.

When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety lover do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? For God? For others? No. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.” (page 10)

I wonder if the disciples ever reflected on the most-often repeated phrases of Christ. If so, they would have noted, “He was always calling us to take courage.”

BE STRONG and COURAGEOUS!

Lord- Please give us a Joshua-like COURAGE!!

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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?

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.