Fear Is A Liar! (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I shared about my personal struggle in one of my callings where I have the honor of serving my local church through the worship ministry. (Read more about that here) Another calling I have is to be an encourager. I have the great honor of people being drawn to me and I get to hear their stories and speak life into their gifts and hearts. I have heard countless stories from others and a common theme is that we fear we aren’t going to be enough… That we cannot possibly accomplish ___ because we’re just not able. We can’t, we won’t, we don’t. Impossibility captures our sights and grows into the most unscalable mountain we’ve ever laid eyes upon. But the God we serve is greater than any mountain. In fact, He brings your mountains down low and makes your rugged valleys like a plain! (Isaiah 40:4 NIV)

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Would you pause for a moment with me? Close your eyes. Deep breath in and deep breath out. Go on… close your eyes for a few seconds and let your mind clear…

You’re back? Great…

Now, answer these questions: have you ever struggled with the lies of fear that you aren’t enough? Or you’re too much? Or you are striving to perform for God, and it is shifting your focus away from true worship? There’s no condemnation here. I’m helping you down a path to freedom, so be honest with yourself. Have you ever placed your focus onto the wrong things in your service in the ministry?

When you experience fear or inadequacy – recognize it for the liar that it is! Pause and ask yourself, “What am I truly believing about God here?”

Melissa Helser says in her podcast, “Our accountability to the Father has to be driven by delight and not duty or fear.”

She goes on to say the following:

“The Lord is still defining my heart… If our hearts are not marked with the Father’s pleasure, we’ll strive for His approval when we already have it.

When we experience the true delight of the Father, it actually begins to change our internal world.”

What Melissa is saying is that we must be rooted in delight. We must be rooted in the knowledge of His true nature and thoughts toward us.

Do you believe that He’s good? Do you believe that He’s a good Father and that He loves you, delights in you, guides you, and wants good things for you? Do you believe that even in difficulty, storm, or anguish – that He is still near, still loves you, that He is still for you? Do you believe all the promises His Word speaks over you?

Or do you believe, that your good, loving Father is actually not good at all? Are you letting the lies tell you that He’s setting you up and waiting to watch you fail. That He doesn’t have enough for you, because He’s giving it to everyone else? He’s waiting to let you fall on your face and wrestle in the mud and mire and that He watches in disgust as you struggle? Do you think He loves to push in your face all you can’t do, especially when you don’t measure up?

If you have ever allowed any of the negative lies above to whisper and attempt to take root in your mind or heart – hear me now – it is all lies. HE IS GOOD.

Spend time in His Word. Intentionally set aside time, especially if you serve on a worship team or in ministry – set aside dedicated time to seek Him. Fill your heart and mind with good things that remind you of His truth and promises. Write down scriptures that speak to wounds in your heart and meditate on them. Place them where you will see them often and repeat them. Shout them in your mind (or aloud) when you hear a lie try to conflict with His truth.

YOU are His beloved.

He sent Jesus to die for YOU.

He is using YOU to help minister to people in a way that only music is touching their souls in those moments. You have a powerful responsibility – but you have also already been equipped. He’s enough in you. He has called you. He loves you, and He delights in seeing you share your gifts He has placed within you.

Go in confidence of the great love your Father has for you. And remember:

Fear IS a liar.

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” [Romans 8:11 MSG]

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ, to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).” [2 Peter 1:1-3 AMPC]

“”The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” [Zephaniah 3:17 NASB]

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” [Isaiah 40:4]

In Christ,

Amy

(edited into a 2 part Series)

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You Are Not Alone

The slick, conniving snake must have waited intentionally, seeking out the moment that the woman was alone. He must have been strategically waiting on the moment that he could whisper lies to her. “I will catch her alone, vulnerable, and I will whisper deception into her ears.” This is something I imagine he conspired.

“You won’t die! …He knows your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (paraphrased…sort of: Gen 3:1-4 NLT)

From the dawn of creation, our enemy has sought to isolate us. If he can get us alone, he can whisper death into our ears, too. Thoughts that we aren’t worthy, not able, and unloved. Unwanted. We are alone. No one knows or understands us; no one cares for us. We are forgotten.

“Take a bite… You won’t die.”

“You’re dead already.”

“No one wants you.”

“You’ll never be as good as _______.”

L I E S ! !

There was a time in my life a few years ago that I felt so very alone. I remember crying one night as I was drifting off to sleep because I didn’t have a close friend anymore to share the hard things in life with. Distance had claimed my closest friend, and I felt isolated when sorrow would strike. The enemy whispered (shouted) my loneliness into my heart, and so I fought back with prayer.

And the Lord answered me. I have been gifted with a close sisterhood that He knew I was going to need in the coming days. They’ve carried my burdens in prayer when I could barely carry my own breath. We need each other!

What about you? What are the lies the enemy has been whispering to you? Are you trying fight these battles alone?

I have a challenge for you: Write the lies down on a single paper. Now, on a separate sheet of paper, dig into God’s Word and contrast those lies with HIS TRUTH. If you’re struggling to do this, ask a friend. Don’t do this alone! You and I were never meant to do this thing called life alone.

Whether it is you and His spirit contrasting those lies with His truth or along with the help of a friend – write out His promises and His Words over you.

Here are some examples from scripture of truths that God’s word says about you:

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made, with intention. (Ps 139:14)
  • You are new, and your past does not define you. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • You have been made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
  • You are free (Galatians 5:1)
  • Before He made the world, He loved YOU and planned for your redemption so that you could be close to Him. (Ephesians 4:4-8)

Now, take that paper that you wrote out the lies with and mark each one out as you proclaim out loud – I am not _______.  ________ is a lie. Then, replace it with a declarative statement with the truth of His Word over you – out loud.

Then, tear up those lies. Ask a friend to help you pray for freedom from any root those lies tried to take and bind up your heart with the healing of Your Creator’s words and love for you.

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You don’t have to do life alone. “Though one can be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) We are stronger together. Imagine yourself in a battle. If you have someone fighting back to back with you – aren’t you stronger against your enemy from both sides? Now image a 3rd person – now you are protected from all sides!

EVERYONE is fighting a battle. We are either coming out of one, going into one, or neck deep in the middle of one. I urge you to not fight alone. If you don’t have a close friend to share prayers with, pray that the Lord would bring you someone, and be intentional in cultivating the relationship when He does.

Here’s my prayer for you tonight:

“I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:16-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

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Fear is a Liar! (Part 1)

It happened again. I received the invitation to serve in an upcoming worship service. I was excited to use my gifts again in ministry, but immediately the lies tried to enter in: you’re not a good singer; you can’t sing as good as ______; you can’t even play an instrument; _____ grew up singing, and you don’t even know how to harmonize without help.

You can’t. You won’t. You don’t. Who are you to step on that stage? You’re too much. You’re not enough. Lies!

The beauty of it this time, though, was that I recognized the lies weren’t coming from within me. Like Melissa Helser says in her “Rooted in Delight” podcast episode, the lies were coming at me. The enemy hates me. He hates you, too! He hates your gift, your calling, your ministry, because he knows the power it holds through Christ in you.

In these moments, I have to refocus my mind continuously. Every time the lies come at me, I remind myself that I am a worshipper, and I am a worship leader. There is strength and power and depth in my worship that I can’t contain. I bring something special to the table that only I can bring. I remind myself I’ve been called by God. Yes, I was invited by my worship pastor, but my calling comes from my Father. I have something to offer.

I remember these special words from my friend, Sandy: no one else can bring my worship to the Father. He wants it from me, and no one else can offer that.

(Photo by Nani Williams of City Church of Chattanooga)

If you serve in worship ministry, think about this. As a person who serves in worship ministry, have you ever struggled with fear – fear of not being enough? Fear of not being worthy? Of not being able? Of being too much? I have a nagging suspicion that I’m not alone in this struggle and a confidence that I am supposed to write this to speak to your heart.

Allow me to share a little more…

In Melissa’s podcast (“Rooted in Delight” episode of Jonathan David & Melissa Helser), she shared the following quotes that wrecked me the first time because they resonated deeply with my struggle, my rooting, and maturation in my calling.

“I was born into worship, into writing songs through sorrow…. The hardest seasons of my life I look back upon with extreme affection, because it’s in those moments that I was formed in God…. I used to think that I was second class – because  I didn’t grow up singing, playing an instrument, leading worship – because I was born into this in seasons of sorrow…”- MH

When I heard those words the first time, tears flooded my face. Instantly I felt apologetic and even shameful for having thought those thoughts, too. Yet, I was also encouraged that such a bold, powerful worship leader as Melissa Helser had wrestled with those same things. Then, she said:

“The Lord spoke to me and said ‘ The gift of your song having been born in sorrow is that it will always remain soft.’ The other gift of your song being born in sorrow is that there’s a strength in it. There is strength in your worship, because you are singing for your life.”

In some of the darkest nights of my soul, where I could barely breathe, let alone voice prayers – worship filled life back into my lungs. I often sing for my life in those times, because it’s the most powerful weapon I know. When I am in those raw moments of worship, nothing around me matters. The dirt on the floor touching my face is forgotten. I don’t care who can hear me, see me, or what they think of me. I just want to enter into His presence so deep that I feel His healing surround me. If only for a moment, I will fight for the peace and change that His presence brings.

When I’m on stage or preparing to serve on stage, it’s like the enemy knows the power of such raw worship and so He strives to distract me with fear and other lies. I love that Melissa shared so vulnerably regarding her battles. When we let people in and know that we’re not alone in our struggle, there’s comfort in the sharing…

I think there’s also comfort in knowing how we fight in those battles. When I am struggling with the lies of the enemy that are coming at me, Father reminds me of my unique strength of my passion in my worship. I lose myself in it, and pour it all out. I get caught up and fully expect to leave empty, in a good way. Everything He’s been building up inside me has been poured out as I know He has called me to do. I’m still growing my abilities and trusting the Father to enhance them and sharpen them. I am believing that He will equip me for that which He calls me to. And as I’ve already mentioned – there  are times that I have doubted that.

Haven’t we all doubted Him at some point in our lives? For me, it’s usually because I think there’s someone more appropriate for the job. Who am I to tell the Creator of all things who should and shouldn’t do His work?

Reality is: there will always be someone who is “better” in our minds. Someone who seems more equipped, and let’s face it – we humans have been doubting our callings since the beginning. Even Moses told God He had the wrong guy… It’s okay that our minds go there – just don’t stay there. It’s not about being the best – He simply asks that you do the work He’s called you to and put your heart into it for Him, love Him and others – don’t over complicate it (Colossians 3:23 and Mark 12:30-31). Stop letting fear of failure get in your way. Shout His truth over the places He’s called you to and let it get deep into your heart and spirit that He equips you for what He’s called you to (Hebrews 13:21, 2 Corinthians 9:8.) He goes before you and prepares the path and is your provision. Show up, get your heart and mind on Him – and watch Him work. It’s a beautiful, humbling and lovely sight.

Go in confidence of the great love your Father has for you. And remember:

Fear IS a liar. 

❤️

“It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!” [Romans 8:11 MSG]

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ, to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).” [2 Peter 1:1-3 AMPC]

“”The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” [Zephaniah 3:17 NASB]

 

In Christ,

Amy

*edited into a 2 part series, check out Fear Is A Liar! (Part 2)

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What if?

I have this crazy question that could change the way you see worship in church. How you worship God in your everyday life. In your thoughts…

Ready?

What if we worshipped God as if He was really in the room?

Let it soak in. Contemplate how it would affect your expression of worship at church. Now…Let’s take it deeper…

What if we stopped worrying about looking weird or what anyone else thought and we instead worshipped Him with abandon?

What if we contemplated the gift He has given when we enter into corporate worship in His house?

What if we lived like we believe what’s in the Word?

The Word of God says “where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20)

He IS here. He IS present in the service. He’s present in your quiet moments at home and the chaos of your week. There’s no place you can go that you’re out of His reach, His sight…His love. (Psalm 139)

What if our choices and our actions and every part of our worship in our lives were all poured out as if we recognized His unending presence?

What if we lived like He was with us in every moment? What if we lived like we knew how much He loves and wants us? Like we knew what His very real and painful, willfully loving sacrifice has set us free from. What if?

(Photo by Nani Williams, City Church of Chattanooga)

In Christ,

Amy

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It Is Well, even when it really isn’t

Friends, I don’t know how you’re feeling this holiday weekend. Maybe your heart is bursting with joy even more than your full tummy.
Or maybe your heart isn’t full at all.

 

Maybe your heart has an empty space that a loved one once filled.

 

Or maybe your heart aches because your “family” doesn’t feel like a family at all.
Maybe these last few days have been filled with abandonment, drama, anger, and/or hurt-filled words.

 

Or perhaps you are like me, and your recent days have been filled with good things, a side of organized chaos that accompanied hosting, and the heartache of the news of the death of a loved one.

 

No matter where you find yourself, can I whisper some encouragement to us for just a moment. Can I remind us that no matter how high we climb or low we slip – Father is right there with us (Psalm 139:8.) That He is near to us, the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:17-18) and He hears our cry and is our deliverer. (Exodus 14:14, Psalm 3:3, Lamentations 3:21-26.)
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(YouVersion Image)

Horatio Spafford penned the words to the Classic Hymn It Is Well as his ship neared the site where his four daughters had tragically died. This man whom had recently lost all of his investment properties in the Great Chicago Fire and a young son to illness, was simply sending his family ahead of him for a special time away. He had planned to follow soon after he addressed some important business back home…and unfortunately their ship sank on the way to their destination. His wife sent him a message informing him of this tragedy containing 2 lung-piercing words: “saved alone.” And asking “What shall I do?” They lost all four daughters when the ship sank. Such deep tragedy and yet he was still able to write such powerful words.

 

How does one write such trusting words when tragedy strikes so deep? When things are not well. Not even close…

 

Though I am certainly grieved by the loss of my spunky aunt, I know I don’t feel the depths of heartache that my beloved cousin, her daughter is experiencing tonight. I don’t know the depth of pain her sisters and brothers are enduring. I can only imagine the hurt as I haven’t walked their road… But I have been paralyzed by the news of a death that stole the breath out of my lungs before. I’ve tasted the pain of a loss so unimaginable that my heart felt it would die at the thought of reality. It’s as though words cannot fully explain the ache in your heart with such a loss.

 

The song It Is Well has encouraged my heart in broken times for years. I am encouraged through music and the vulnerability in this song speaks to me. It reminds me that if someone can face tragedy that deep and still proclaim that God is good…then so can I. It often isn’t about what we can SEE. It is TELLING our souls, that IT IS WELL. Reminding our souls where our source of joy, light, life, and peace comes from.

 

We too can have peace that surpasses understanding. We too can know that God is good. That “It Is Well” with our souls because this broken world is temporary.

 

No matter what we find ourselves looking at, we can also proclaim that it is well.

 

My favorite hymn, born out of tragedy, yet it encourages me so deeply. And Kristene DiMarco’s version is absolutely a favorite of mine. If you’ve not heard it, you simply must take the time to listen to it now:

 

 

“So let go, my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name…” – Kristene DiMarco

 

Be encouraged my dear friends. Whether you are high on the mountain or feeling trapped in the valley – you are not forgotten. You are loved. And if you are His, then you know that He has the gift of peace and joy that does not come from what you see. May you too, be able to sing tonight: It is well, with my soul.
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YouVersion Image)

In Christ,
Amy

 

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Busy: Permission to Slow Down

It’s my son’s senior year. He’s an athlete and his final football season was quite demanding. This is also the year where school decisions are being made, standardized test (ACT) scores are undeniably critical, and senioritis is a real threat. It just so happens that my husband and I recently experienced promotions that we’ve both worked toward for years. God-given appointments where we are certainly called to use our gifts to make a positive difference. With these come responsibilities and added time to adjust and train. There are a host of other things going on in our world that we are ever so grateful to be a part of like being leaders in different ministries in our church. All wonderful things that we love so much! Take all this and add some things I haven’t mentioned, and mix in the holiday season. A word comes to mind that most of my friends have exhaled so much lately: busy.

slow the rush

My dear friend Mande shared a provocative question this morning as she poured her heart out to our church. I would love to pose that question to you:

Are you honoring God in your current season? 

Life will not slow down unless you slow it. I assure you, the enemy of your soul would love nothing more than to keep you busy. Tie up your open moments with social media and an endless to do list until you are burnt up, burned out, and altogether snappy. Loves it.

And you want to know why he loves it? Because if you are too busy then you won’t notice the important stuff. You won’t notice the moments all around you where you have the perfect opportunity to be fully present and connect with the ones you love the most, right in front of you. Where you may give your best in the day at your job or out in public and bring what little you have left to your home. Where you get to a point that you are so spent you can’t think of anything that can bring you peace because you see no end in sight. Anxiety takes over and all you want is to numb the pain and stress of it all or to wish the days away.

underwhelmed soul

You were meant for more. You are worth so much more. Hear me: YOU are so valuable that you owe it to yourself to learn a beautifully difficult, but at times very necessary word:

No.

wornout woman

If you need to hear it from someone, then hear it from me: you have permission to slow down. To say “no, I can’t make it” to a precious special event you’ve been invited to because you need to return sabbath back into your week. Because you need to prioritize time in your home that allows you to soak up your loved ones and not feel as though you are rushing off out the door to an endless list of demands.

allow yourself to be interrupted

You have permission to free up your time and say “no, I’m not available to attend ___ but thank you for thinking of me” with no further explanation. Sometimes you will need to say no to good things that will undoubtedly be fun, but you need to recharge. Not everyone will understand this but it’s okay to say you have plans to have no plans with your family because you are busy and unavailable. You have already blocked that time off to be with your spouse and children or to replenish your soul alone with the Word. Keep some “whitespace” on your calendar so that you aren’t suffocating from life’s demands. Do this so that when God interrupts your plans you are not so spent that you miss the opportunity to be Christ’s hands and heart extended.

This holiday season, I not only challenge you – I urge you. Pray about every opportunity you are so kindly given to connect and choose wisely. There’s nothing wrong with bringing peace and moments of sabbath into your days so that your family remains strong and you are able to take time to fill your own cup. Remember, you can’t pour anything out of an empty vessel.

When was the last time you spent privately reading the Word, seeking His presence, slowing your spirit? If you can’t remember… Go ahead and close that laptop or phone browser and block off some time to hide away. Do it now – if you can, but no further out than in the next week – you have permission to say no, and slow down. Enjoy this season. Enjoy these days.

Your family and your future self thanks you.

Love in Christ,

Amy

P.S. – Please read this with all the grace and love that our sweet Savior has for you! Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you’re too over-extended to slow down. Just take a moment to ask that He help you begin to make healthy choices in the coming days and weeks, and trust Him when He nudges you to say no and of course, say yes when you feel you’re supposed to say yes. But don’t say yes out of what Lysa Terkeurst calls a “disease to please.” You don’t owe others so much of yourself that you give them your peace, too. No condemnation. No guilt. xoxo (And check out Lysa’s book The Best Yes – it will change your life.)

https://thebestyes.com/

(note: these images are not mine, they are borrowed from Lysa’s ministry Facebook page’s posts with the hope of inspiring you by her words from her book as you read what my heart felt led to share with you about fighting the “busyness” of this season. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram – she and her ministry team are such a blessing.)

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Reminding myself that He’s faithful

This has encouraged many on my Facebook page so I thought perhaps I should share it here, too. Here’s what I posted:

Going through some old notes on my phone tonight and I found this declaration I wrote to myself and the prayer I was clinging to when I was facing significant difficulty during a major life storm. Perhaps someone else is facing a dark storm right now and could find encouragement in reading this declaration and praying with trust that He will provide the wisdom and peace you need. He’s so faithful. So wonderfully faithful…

Here is what I wrote in that note:

________________________

-Even in the darkness I declare my God is faithful.
-In the joyful and the broken moments.
-When my lungs are heavy and labored.
-When my prayers are jumbled and weak.
-When the world is spinning too fast for me to keep up.
-Even His Word is the only solid thing I can hold onto.

His strength sustains me.
His love surrounds me.
His promises carry me.

Hold me faithful One. Fight for me. Give me wisdom. Give me faith.

________________________

Be encouraged dear ones. He hears you. He holds you. He’s with you. ❤️

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