Stepping out of fear into my hiding place

Psalms 34:4-5 AMP I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces will never blush in shame or confusion.

For the past month I have had the honor and privileged to bring the word on Sunday afternoons (our service is at 1:30) to our church. My husband works a full time job and has been on third shift almost two months now. They are suppose to rotate every four weeks. During third shift, it difficult for him to keep a good sleep pattern on the weekends. Especially when you have a service that takes place during the time you are usually sleeping. I had told him before that I would work on being better prepared to help more in the pulpit part when he is on that shift.

A back story on me…I am an extreme introvert (or well I was). It was so bad that I would not be able to go up to the counter of a fast food restaurant and ask for condiments. My senior project we had to give a presentation to everyone that we invited. I had invited my family. No classmates were present except for the two I needed to help model what I had made. I should have invited no one! I stammered and cried through the whole presentation. There is a recording of it somewhere, thanks to my grandparents! I could not even give a short announcement at church. I cried anytime the microphone was put in my face.

I remember the moment I had asked God to remove that fear from me. I remember sitting in the Gwinnett Center listening to Joyce Meyer minister. I remember telling God that I wanted to be able to talk about His Word and who He is to me. That was the first Sunday that I willingly took the microphone and shared what the ladies in our church had done that weekend.

It has been over ten years since that moment. I was not this phenom that spoke perfectly from that point on. I have had to grow in it. I am in still not one of those polished speakers that you will see on television or at a major conference. I am willing to grow more in it.

I was just in awe this morning of how God put a series inside of me. I have only done one service at a time, with months separating each time I taught. Not to say that anxiety did not try to rise up each and every time. I know that I could not do it on my own. My God was with me every step of the way. I was in His arms (in my hiding place) the entire time I was on the platform. Our crowds do not have to be large. Even if the altar call was just for one person, that is is worth celebrating. I was doing what I was created for.

Psalms 91:1-2 AMP He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”

I do not know what God has put in your heart to step out and do differently. Let me encourage you that growth happens when you do. Stop chasing after things and people to make you happy. Know that when you are where He wants you to be, that is your most happy!

If you would like to to check out the series “Rebuild or Tear Down?” you can check it out on youtube here: Connect Church YouTube Channel

Be blessed!

Isolation is not your purpose

John 17:17 (AMP) Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth.

This was the key verse in my Smith Wigglesworth devotional yesterday. The devotional was talking about making the Word the authority in your life. He wanted to convey that instead of praying whether you should obey the word (which is just disobedience), do the Word. He questioned the heart of the believer for having to pray whether God wanted them to do what was written in the Word.

This got me thinking about the “set them apart for Your purposes,” as it is written in the Amplified Version. Since the beginning of man, Satan has taken God’s Word and twisted it (taking it out of context). Taking this Word out of context we can justify us isolating ourselves from the community of believers. A person can attend a weekly service and still be isolated, because they choose not to get involved with each others lives. They have been “set apart for a purpose.” Really they have a deep rooted fear of not feeling important to the community of believers, but only important to God, therefore, they are “set apart.” I know, because I used to be one of those. Fear will tell you that you are not wanted, not needed and not loved.

Let us put that key verse into context. John 17:15-21 (AMP) I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them and protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth [set them apart for Your purposes, make them holy]; Your word is truth. Just as You commissioned and sent Me into the world, I also have commissioned and sent them (believers) into the world. For their sake I sanctify Myself [to do Your will], so that they also may be sanctified [set apart, dedicated, made holy] in [Your] truth. “I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me.

I took the liberty of underlining some very important elements. First, Jesus is talking about a group, not an individual. He did not say “some believers,” He said a blanket “believers.” To me that means there is not room for me to not be included in these verses, if I am called a “believer.” So therefore, I should not be praying if this is God’s will for my life. If I am a “believer” then, that is an automatic yes I should be obeying this.

“I do not pray for these alone (it is not for their sake only that I make this request),” I believe these words are written in red in some Bibles. This means that Jesus did not single anyone out. This is meant for ALL who will ever believe. He has sent us out to be apart of this world, not of this world. That means I have to allow the messy part of the world to be a part of my life, so that He can shine bright in it.

“That they all may be one…so the world may believe (without any doubt) that You sent Me.” This right here should give us a heart check in why we are called to a Body (a church, a community of believers). What if I have a gifting that can be done alone? Does this verse say you should? Jesus sent the disciples out two by two (Luke 10:1). When we read about intercession in the New Testament we read about it happening in groups (Acts 12:5). Yes, you can do things on your own, but does that mean you should? I have to remind myself that time and again. It is not “I” that is set apart, it is “we” that is set apart.

Praying that you know that you are needed, that you are wanted and that you are loved. Do not let fear hold you back from really being a part of a community any longer. There is purpose in community!

Hebrews 10:24 (TPT) Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Say ‘no’ to carpenter ants

Ephesians 1:18-19 (AMP) And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength.

I do not know about you, but when something is bothering me I mull over it. This is a good moment for me to call on God and ask for a home inspection (since we are the home of the Holy Spirit). My husband and I have purchased two homes since we married. The first one was a bank repossession and was basically as is. The second home we were making a large investment in and had some money, to put down from the sale of the previous home. Let me add that when we bought our second home I was well into my third trimester with our second child. We physically went and looked at and toured nearly eighty homes (I know, I was exhausting).

We were running short on time and we had settled on a home not too far from our church location at the time. I was not crazy about the schools that we would be district for and the layout of the house was a little weird, but the closets were good and they had just remodeled the kitchen. We paid for a home inspection as we had made an offer. We wanted to make sure the home we were going to buy was solid. A home inspection is a detailed report of all the potential problems the home may have. This home had a lot of problems. First off, those appliances were not even hooked up in the kitchen and they were a long way off from getting to where that was even possible (electrical issues). Those cute gas logs in that nice fireplace were just there to look at, there was nothing hooked up and the fireplace was not usable. Then there were the carpenter ants that had built nests all in that brand new deck they put in, but did not treat, and now had infected the rest of the house. How can something so small cause so much damage! That house was a big no after the home inspection.

Our inspection for His home within us is the Holy Spirit and His Word. God has given us these so that I can clean myself up (a different clean up from that sin life I lived), but a clean up of the years of neglect, hurts, fear, shame and other spiritual baggage that I have been carrying around. These “life problems” can do some serious damage to this home, just like those small carpenter ants did to that home. I do not like that I mull over things so much. Overthinking and over analyzing things robs us of our peace and our joy. It will rob us of our sleep and our confidence of who we are in Christ. Christ purchased this home and paid a high price for it. I am forever grateful and know that I cannot do this life without Him.

Praying for you as you begin this week. Know and cherish this hope, that He sees us as the riches of His glorious inheritance. We ask Him to search within us and open the eyes of our hearts. He who began a good work within us will see it to completion. We are worth the investment!

Go get your daddy

1 John 4:18 (KJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

This Sunday we had a guest speaker at our church and he ministered on anxiety being the start of fear. In my personal studies I have been reading on the root of rejection, which in turn happens to be rooted in fear. I loved how he brought out this verse in particular, Proverbs 12:25 (AMP) Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good (encouraging) word makes it glad. In the King James Version it says the it will make our heart stoop. When I become anxious my chest will become heavy and the first thing I do is start to breath different. My husband will often ask, “Why you breathing so heavy?” Of which I cannot answer because in that state I do not make any sense.

1 Peter 4:7 (AMP) The end and culmination of all things is near. Therefore, be sound-minded and self-controlled for the purpose of prayer [staying balanced and focused on the things of God so that your communication will be clear, reasonable, specific and pleasing to Him.]

All I can do at that moment is just pray in the Holy Spirit. What brings on anxiety? For me, it is when things happen that I was not prepared for. It could be a change in plans. My biggest one is questions that I was not prepared to answer and they expect me to know the answer when they ask the question. Or so I think. If I have to reply that I do not know, I feel like I have let them down. It’s a perfection mechanism that I put in place so that I would not be rejected, but really it is a bad one.

So why did 1 John 4:18 hit me a little different this Sunday? I mean, I do not hate anyone.

Saturday we held a yard sale, at our home, to get rid of some inventory that has been piling up in my husbands online store. A woman walked up with her grandson and he wanted to look at the Skylanders we had for sale. She asked if they could remove the ones from the bundles, because he had some of them already and she did not want to buy them again just because they were bundled. I explained to her that this was inventory from our online store and there was a lot of research done to create the bundles by my husband and that I could not remove them from the bundles. She scowled and replied, “So you can unbundle them, you just don’t want to.” I looked at my youngest and told him, “Go get your daddy.” My husband came up and she explained what she wanted, he told her he would work with her. When he tried to leave, I looked him in the eyes and said “Stay.” They left with over seventy dollars of Skylanders from us and the little boy left happy.

She exposed a part of my love walk that needs to be perfected. So when I heard perfect love casts out fear, anxiety is the root of fear, the root of rejection is fear…oh, Amanda, you have not conquered fear. How can I get to perfect love? I do not know if I will ever get there, but one thing I do know is that I am making progress. Then I remember the words of Paul in Philippians 3:12-15 (AMP), Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you.

I may not achieve perfection in my love walk here, but that does not mean that I do not need to keep pressing towards the goal. My prize with be waiting for me in heaven where I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

How does anxiety show its signs in you? How do you deal with anxiety? I would love to hear from you and pray with you. Please contact me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

‘What if’ limits us

Over the years I have stepped out of my comfort zones and allowed God to take more parts of my life to mold it into how He wants it. I was not always like that. Why? Fear. Plain and simple. Fear will rob us of our potential because when we use the excuse of “what if,” I have now refused Him access to that part of my life.

God has had me on the word “refuse” for some time now. Refuse is the opposite of “willing to.” When it came time for me to speak in our church. I have to admit, I was so very scared. I had just attended a Joyce Meyer’s conference. She comes to the Atlanta area every other year and the conference is free to attend. This was my first trip that I had every organized for my church (my husband and I were still just the Associate Pastors at the time). Usually after events I would do all the prep work for the presentation to the church and someone else would talk about the event. I remember sitting in the auditorium listening to Joyce speak, I asked God right there to give me the strength to start teaching in our church. People always told me that I would, but I was so afraid, my voice would shake and I would cry. This time, I had a plan. I did not even tell my husband I was going to do it (just in case I backed out). I remember how proud he was of me. What made it even better was how I know how proud my Father of me. It wasn’t perfect, but I have gotten better over the years.

Joyce has a new book out called Do It Afraid. I am only on chapter twelve and can I tell you it has also revealed other areas that I have allowed fear to still have control in my life. One of those is using “crutches” as to why I do not have success in an area of my life. She made an eye opening statement: “My writing requires me to sit a lot, and a doctor recently told me that the medical profession now considers a sedentary lifestyle to be the new cancer. He wasn’t saying that sitting will cause cancer, but he was trying to impress on me that too much sitting is extremely detrimental to our health.” If that doesn’t make you take a couple of laps around your neighborhood!!

One of those is using “crutches” as to why I do not have success in an area of my life.

Often we will use our health, education, financial status, marital status, etc. as the “crutch” to why we do not see victory in areas of our lives. I am reminded of a parable that Jesus gave us found in Matthew 25:14-29, using the Message Translation: It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money. After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’ The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’ The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of the “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.

Wow! This guy’s “what if’s” cost him a lot!! I do not want to be this guy. When I lost my job a couple of year’s ago, it was big hit to us financially. All the jobs I applied for would not have made up for the loss of income. So you know what I did? I used what we had…my vehicle. I took up driving for Uber. We live next to a college football town, Auburn, and there was a way for me to make that money. It was a stretch for me, but eventually I came to love it. I loved talking to the college kids as I drove them to classes. I would play the “Mama Mia Soundtrack” in my minivan and had all the kids singing along (the guys too). I was able to make what I had been missing to finish out our year. We did not go into lack. Do you know what happened after the football season stopped? Our need for that income changed. I no longer had to do that, but I had been willing to.

Last year I only drove a few times to buy my husband a really big Christmas gift. I bought him a Neo Geo. If you do not know what that it is you are probably not a 90s kid or you are not an old school gamer like he is. However, it was on his most wanted list and I made sure he got it. I have no idea what to get him this year though.

Our kids play sports. My oldest wrestles for the high school so the expense really is not that much. My youngest though! He does travel baseball and football. We spend a few thousand on him. When it came time for the fees for travel baseball, we just did not have it. So I used what I had. I am not ashamed to say that I sold plasma to pay for my son to do travel baseball. I had bruised arms for a few months, but I used what I had. This year when it came time to pay his travel fees, guess who had more than enough and did not have to sell plasma again? We did…but I was willing to.

Just because we were in a bind did not mean that we allowed the “what if’s” to keep us in lack. We used what we had, tithed off of the increase and God provided supernaturally! There is a time to use Be Still and Know (Psalm 46:10) and then there is a time to move. Sometimes we keep hold of the “be still” words that we refuse to move into what God has been telling us to do. If you are upset because you keep hearing that you need to move, but you want to stand on the “be still” promise, then maybe we need to search our hearts a little more. Do you think I enjoyed having bruised arms from selling plasma? Or driving in the heavy traffic to get people to the game on time (I even had to clean up vomit once)? I kept a thankful heart during those times. I used what I had and God’s provisions came in a way I cannot explain it. Do not let “what if” keep you in lack any longer. It might be a stretch and it might be scary, but as Joyce says, “do it anyway!”

Peace, Love and Jesus

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

As I read the first four books of the New Testament I saw a theme on what Jesus taught the disciples. He taught them about love and having faith. Peach and love go hand in hand. You cannot have faith and not love, and you cannot have peace without faith.

Lisa Bevere in Without Rival states: Fear is costly. It will steal your thoughts, your dreams, your relationships, your finances, your faith and your hope. Love is constant, it is supremely generous. It seeks to restore your relationships, your dreams and your hopes.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13, you know the verse we quote at each other when we talk about the love walk. Let us do a little something different. Let us replace love with fear.

Fear is impatient and unkind while it envies and boasts; it is arrogant and rude. Fear insists on it’s own way; it is irritable and resentful; rejoices in wrong doing, rather than in truth. Fear bears nothing, believes nothing, hopes nothing, endures nothing. Fear will end.

When I inserted fear here, I saw some attributes of my self that I did not like. So I started saying this over myself daily:

Amanda is patient (suffers long). Amanda is kind. Amanda does not envy. Amanda does not boast (or parade herself). Amanda is not proud (puffed up). Amanda does not dishonor others (behave rudely). Amanda is not self seeking. Amanda is not easily angered (provoked). Amanda keeps no records of wrongs (thinks evil). Amanda does not delight in evil (rejoice in iniquity). Amanda rejoices in truth. Amanda always protects (bears all things). Amanda always trusts (believes all things). Amanda always hopes. Amanda always perseveres (endures). Amanda never fails.

I did a study not to long ago with my youth. My study Bible expounded on this verse a little more for my group:

Love "suffers long" means that God's love has patience with imperfect people.
"Love does not envy" means that real love wants other people to get ahead.
"Love does not parade itself" means that Bible love doesn't put on a big show in order to impress others.
Love "is not puffed up" or "proud" refers to the fact that people who walk in God's love do not have big heads.
Love "does not seek it's own" means that it is not self-centered and selfish but instead looks out fo the needs of others.
Love "is not provoked"; it is not irritable under pressure. Still working on this one!!
Love "thinks no evil" means it doesn't keep a record of wrongs done to it and is constantly forgiving.
Love "does not rejoice in iniquity" and does not rejoice in the mistakes and failures of others. The "God don't like ugly" statement makes my skin crawl.
Love "rejoices in the truth" means that it believes in what is open and hones.
Love "bears all things" is the kind of love that defends and hold other people up.
Love "believes" the best about other people.
Love "hopes all things" means that it never gives up on people.
Love "endures all things" is love that perseveres and is loyal to the end.

When I read this, it made me think of Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

Have you had a hard time choosing to meditate on these types of things? You know it is a choice. When we choose not to meditate this way about our situation or about people then we choose fear, the opposite of peace. Which means we choose not to love.

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love? When I do not have His peace. The peace that you can have by taking a nap in a raging storm (Mark 4:37-38).

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love?

When I do not have His peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, with surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Your requests are made known to God, not Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tik Tok, etc.

Then we do verse 8 (think only on the pure, lovely, virtuous), and verse 9 is our promise: The thing which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

I have to make a choice in my mind and heart to love. I can walk in peace during the storms. The storm is where my destiny will be revealed, and I want to walk in my destiny! How many, like myself, see an area of the love walk that we can work on? It is okay that we still have work to do. It means that we have a destiny. He created us for good things and He is preparing us just for that (Ephesians 2:10). This mess that I got into will be used one day to lead others to Jesus. Remember love endures all things and is loyal to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.