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Posts Tagged ‘courage’

The past few weeks have brought story after story of heartbreak and pain for many of my friends and family. Brokenness, loss,  relapse, destructive choices have caused heavy hearts, fear, even despair.

In my years of walking the heights and depths of prodigal wilderness, God’s Word has been a refuge, a haven, a place of courage and hope.  These are some the passages that have infused my heart and mind with peace and gratitude in even the darkest days.  May they do the same for you.

Jeremiah 24:6,7:  My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:16,17:  This is what the Lord says:  Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded.  They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your descendants.  Your children will return to their own land.

Isaiah 54:13:  All your children will be taught by the lord, and great will be their peace.

Isaiah 59:21:  As for me, this is my covenant with them.  My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.

Job 42:12:  The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Philippians 1:6:  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:4:  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.

A blessing for you from Psalm 20:  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.  May the Lord grant all your requests.

Psalm 21:6:  Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

Deuteronomy 31:8:   The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.

Colossians 3:12-13:  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

James 1:5:  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,  who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Hebrews 4:16:  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I Thessalonians 5:18:  In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 34:5-7:  For those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:18-19:  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Isaiah 60:22:  I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.

What about you?  How has God encouraged you in a wilderness journey?

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All In

Head of a Warrior by DaVinci

“I’m with you heart and soul.”

The soldiers of Israel are hiding from the Philistines.

Jonathan, son of King Saul, felt God could rescue them “by many or by few.”  So he said to his armor bearer, “Let’s  go over to the Philistines and see what God will do.”

Crazy.  Wild.  Insane.  Two against thousands.

Surely this young armor bearer—not soldier, armor bearer—thought, Tonight I die.

He might have wanted to say, “Jonathan, you go right ahead.  I think I will stay here in hiding.”

But he didn’t have that option—he had to do what his leader said.

Apparently that didn’t enter his mind.  His response: “Do it!  Go ahead! I’m all in.  I am with you heart and soul.”

Heart and soul.

He would risk it all.  Face danger. Confront the enemy.  Die even.

The result?  Jonathan and his brave partner killed about 20 Philistines—they knew God was with them.

And the other thousands?  They panicked and fled.  Saul rallied his troops and took off after them.  It was a rout.

Wow!

Wonder where I would have been?  Hiding with the fearful or charging heart and soul with the Lord?

And you?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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I am a fan of windows.  I love light coming in and I love looking out.  I enjoy feeling like I’m outside while comfortable in my air conditioning (I do live in Florida).

I especially love my Florida room—it is almost all windows.  We can look out into the woods behind our home, watch the raccoons sneaking after the cat food, listen to the frogs and alligators and enjoy the deer who often nap in our back yard.

I am also a fan of windows for the mind and heart—to let light in, to welcome new ideas, to shake up thinking, to foster dreams.

Just as windows often get stuck and must be forced open, sometimes we need some help—a little muscle or even a crowbar—to open our mind and heart windows.  Here are a few ways to let some fresh air in:

  • Read a book that challenges you in your comfort areas, or that you might not agree with.  Does it reveal new ways for you to think about something?
  • Seek out someone whose heart and/or mind you appreciate to learn how they think,  what motivates them, what influences them.  Ask questions and listen.
  • Do something that is scary to you. (Include a friend if that helps.) Make note of how you feel and respond.
  • Browse:  in a library, at a bookstore, on the internet.  What issues, trends, desires do you see reflected? What ideas are stimulated in your mind?  What makes you angry?What needs tug at your heart?
  • Hang out with some children.  Observe how they live out imagination.  Can you let your imagination run wild, just a little at least?
  • What were your dreams as a child?  Have any of them come true?  Are any of them still real to you?  Do you want to pursue any of them?
  • Spend some extended time with God, asking Him to give you His ideas and His dreams for you.  What will you do to pursue them?

As we throw back the shutters and pull up the blinds, God will shine His bright light on us,  illuminating how He wants to work in and through us.  As we peek through a window, we will see open doors we had never noticed and we will have the courage to venture through them.

So open the windows! Can you feel the fresh air?  Can you hear God better?  What is He saying?  Do you see the door opening on a bold path?  Will you step through and risk it?

He promises to go with you.

C 2011 Judy Douglass

 

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What are you afraid of?

Bethany Hamilton surely had some fear of crashing waves and flying boards.  Of smashing into rocks.  Of failing to compete well.  Maybe even of planes falling from the sky on the way to a competition.

But sharks?  Sure, there are sharks in the ocean.  And occasionally they go after a surfer, but hardly ever.  Surely it wouldn’t happen to her.

But it did.  And that shark took her arm.  Almost her life.  And certainly her surfing career.

Bethany, though, is an exceptional young woman.  A fighter: “I don’t need easy.  I just need possible.”  She has not only recovered, but is surfing again.

The movie Soul Surfer tells her amazing story of recovery, family, faith and determination.  Many have called it “one of the most inspirational movies I’ve ever seen.”

Probably most of us won’t have a movie made of a defining event in our lives, but we do have opportunities every day to face our fears and live with courage and determination.

What am I afraid of?  Heights and falling seem to top the list of the everyday fears.   Being accepted is still there, though less so as time goes on.  Health issues loom for the less-distant future now.  The biggest fear?  Safety and right choices for those I love, especially my children and grandchildren.

But Jesus has a word for me and for you, expressed here and in many other admonitions to us:

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)

Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Would I have the courage to overcome as Bethany did?    I don’t know, but I hope so.  For I have living in me the God of the universe who tells me over and over, ”Don’t be afraid.  Be strong and courageous.  I will give you all you need when you need it.  And I will always be with you.”

What are you afraid of?

C2011 Judy Douglass

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My grandboy Ethan is afraid of my horse.

 

It is a stuffed horse.  About 4 feet long and 2 feet high.  It’s floppy legs spread out and it lies on the floor.  Ethan’s older brothers love to ride on him.

 

But Ethan, a happy, engaging boy, shrinks back if you bring the horse near him.  He will neigh like a horse, but he won’t get near this one.

 

When you shrink back in fear, what is usually the best response?  To face your fear, to push beyond what you don’t like or understand, and to engage reality.

 

So I took Ethan to ride on a real horse.  He loved it!  Squeals—not of fear, but of joy!  And the fake horse?  No more shrinking back.

 

When do you shrink back?  What are you afraid of?

 

I’m afraid of heights.  Of dangerous activities that my children and grandkids love to pursue. Of grandboy Carter climbing to the highest point of everything.   Of things that threaten life or limb.  So I usually don’t do them, and I pray a lot when my family does.  But occasionally I don’t shrink back, I face my fear and engage reality.  And usually I love it—like the whitewater rapids in the Arkansas River.

 

Sometimes my fears are of more intangible things:  Being rejected.  Failing.  Proving unworthy.  Disappointing people.  Demonstrating my inadequacy.  And guess what—that is often what God calls me (you) into:  the risky, the scary, the unknown.  And He says, “Don’t shrink back.”

 

Scripture has strong admonitions to us on shrinking back:  “’But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’  But we do not belong to those who shrink back…, but to those who have faith…” (Hebrews 10:38-39)

 

So, in the power of the Spirit, I face my fears, step out, take the leap of faith, engage the opportunity.  Though I may not shrink back, the fear and trembling are often real.  But so can be the squeals—of joy—as God comes through and holds me and enables me to do all He is calling me to do.

 

No shrinking back.

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First I talked with Sarah (not her real name). Sarah’s husband was in prison for speaking the truth about Jesus. He and others were sentenced to five years in prison. It was appealed, but in the meantime, Sarah and her two children waited.

A stray tear rolled down her cheek as she told me that they were proud of their husband/father, but they miss him terribly. They were proud that he was sharing in the Lord’s suffering and telling others about Him. They were determined to keep their faith strong and continue to serve God. They were demonstrating real courage.

Then I met with Julia (not her real name). She too shed tears as we talked. She and her two children also missed their husband/father. He was murdered for speaking boldly about Jesus. They didn’t understand why this happened. The pain was humanly unbearable. But they knew he was a brave man who loved God. Julia was determined to continue in ministry—to honor her husband and to honor her Lord. Courage is a word that applies to her also.

We all need courage—often. Sometimes that courage is for great, life-shaking events, losses, pain. Sometimes it is for less dramatic events, but courage is still required.  We need courage to face our fears, our uncertainties, our confusion. We need courage to step into the unknown, to try something new, to take a risk. We need courage to let go and to embrace.

Most of us will not encounter the traumas that Sarah and Julia endured. Our fears and doubts and reluctances may be in different arenas. But each of us will have those times when we need to throw ourselves completely on God—and the mercy, grace, strength and courage that He alone can provide.

He is so faithful to ENCOURAGE us—to put courage in us.

He said to Joshua: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

The Lord Jesus often said to His disciples: “Do not be afraid.” He promised to be with them, to take care of them, to provide for them.

And He says the same to us: “Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous.” In every test, each trial, with each fear, every risk, with all terrors and uncertainties, Jesus is there to ENCOURAGE us—to give us the measure of courage we will need.

And He often uses us as his instruments of instilling courage in those we love, work with, minister to: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) What a privilege!

May God give you courage today.

c Judy Douglass 2010

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How do you say good-bye to a child?

I just watched the memorial service for 5-year-old Ava Hunter, daughter of Josh and Lisa, granddaughter of Joel and Becky.   I am deeply touched by the emotion, the tears, the faith, the pain, the humor, the hope that were expressed in this celebration of little Ava.

A few thoughts from the family:

Josh Hunter: “ Nothing but time.”  Josh shared poignant words about the time they had, about desiring more time.  And now she lives beyond time.

Lisa Hunter:   We will have to learn to journey through this life without her.  She loved to dance and run, and I can picture her dancing and running and leaping—with Jesus.

Isaac Hunter:  Blessed are those who mourn—we mourn because we were blessed to know Ava.  We were blessed by her kindness and her love and her faith.  We were blessed by her courage—she had moxie.  Even when the cancer bully was invisible and seemingly invincible within her, she stood right up to it.

Blessed are those who mourn, because they shall be comforted.  Comfort comes in Christ Himself, and in the assurance that one day God will set the world—in us and around us—to right.  Then there will be no more mourning.

Joel Hunter:  Ava’s life changed people.  Her death reminds us to treasure each moment with children, family and friends.  God is not here to grant us whatever we want, but to grant us intimacy when we don’t get what we want.  We must be able to say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Five years of joyful memories.  A beautiful good-bye.  Time and longing in the days ahead.  And sure hope of Ava’s freedom now and a glorious reunion with her and our Lord who comforts and redeems us.

You can watch Ava’s memorial service online at

http://www.northlandchurch.net/ava/

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