Identity > Fear.

SCRIPTURE:

Romans 8:15-17

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

STORY:

Like four years ago there was a kids movie that came out called Rise of the Guardians. I was a nanny at the time, so I was on top of my animated film game. I remember seeing this movie with the kids one day and feeling like God was so clearly speaking through the entire thing.

Basically the movie was about the “guardians” of children such as Santa, the Easter Bunny & the Tooth Fairy, and their purpose was to protect joy & innocence in kids. The entire movie, the guardians fight against the villain — a boogey man named Pitch Black who meets kids in their dreams and replaces their good dreams with fear.

Here’s what I’m getting at: Fear is a thief, y’all. Apparently even secular animated film writers know that. Fear will rob you of your dreams and your destiny, and the crazy thing is sometimes you don’t even know it until you look up and realize you’ve been completely derailed by it.

As Noland and I were heading into the new year, having our annual family dream session, we had to have some honest conversations with ourselves about the places we’d allowed fear to derail us. We had to repent of places we’d partnered with fear & handed over our dreams in exchange for the bondage of being afraid.

We realized we’d been living out of a fear of losing again. A fear of the unknown. A fear of being too broken to move forward.

And you know what I love about God? His answer is so simple. The solution to dealing with fear is in recalling our identity. It’s so easily spelled out in this Romans 8 passage — you haven’t been given a spirit of fear. Instead, the Spirit you’ve been given is the adoption to sonship. Period.

God pretty much just says, “You can’t be fearful. You’re mine.”

Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) Fear not, little flock. For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Gosh, I want to be better at living like this. I want to live my life this year in such a way that I know who I am because I know WHOSE I am — and since I’m His, I cannot be enslaved to fear.

SONG:

“No Longer Slaves”
Bethel Music
We Will Not Be Shaken

Listen:
Spotify  |  Apple Music  |  YouTube

Playlist from previous weeks:
Spotify  |  Apple Music

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Are you tired?

SCRIPTURE:

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

STORY:

Have you ever watched an Iron Man Triathlon on TV? I remember watching them as a kid and being somewhat disturbed watching people reach the finish line, as they’re peeing (among other things) all over themselves, having completely lost control of all bodily functions.

This is the only analogy I can come up with lately on how I feel emotionally. I’m exhausted and I have no control. I’ve had the weirdest meltdowns lately, triggered by the most ridiculous things. I was beginning to ask myself, “is there something clinically wrong with me?”

I was talking to a friend of mine recently, telling her I feel totally crazy, and she said, “Sara. You are at the end of the most intense emotional year of your life. You are at the finish line of an emotional iron man. It makes sense that you feel out of control. It’s OK to give yourself some grace and rest.”

Oh. Give myself some grace. Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

I think sometimes, especially as leaders, we just plow through our lives in the name of “church” or “leadership” or “mission” without allowing ourselves to heal when we’ve been hurt. I was a college athlete, and I was a classic case of “playing too soon after an injury.” It’s how I tore my hip flexor — a chronic inability to fully rest.

As I’m looking back on this year, I’m realizing that I was pretty severely injured in May, and I spent a little bit of time rehabbing my broken and bruised self, but there are places in me that have not fully healed — and now in some ways, they’re worse than they were before.

I’m carving out time to stop and grieve. I’m asking God hard questions that I need Him to help me resolve in my heart. I’m getting some counseling and I’m re-opening some wounds that need to be cleaned out and properly sewn back together.

I’m doing all these things in step with my marriage and my ministry and the rest of my life & relationships — learning the unforced rhythms of grace.

Walking when He tells me to walk. Letting Him throw me over His shoulder & carry me when I can’t. Crying when I need to cry. Screaming and shaking my fists and asking Him hard questions when I feel like it’s all so unfair, because He can handle it.

Learning that being in pain and wrestling with big questions in my heart does not disqualify me from leadership. It draws me nearer to the heart of the only One who can resolve my questions and heal my broken heart.

So when we’re stumbling through the last leg of the race, peeing all over ourselves, falling every few steps — we lean in. We let Him show us the way. We climb into His arms and let Him carry us when we need to. His burden is light. His way is perfect. He hasn’t left us. He never will.

SONG:

“Cecie’s Lullaby”
Steffany Gretzinger
The Undoing

Listen:
YouTube  |  iTunes

Playlist from previous weeks:
Spotify  |  Apple Music

Thank You, Jesus.

SCRIPTURE:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

STORY:

Easier said than done, you know? To have joy all the time. To pray without end. To be grateful in your highest highs and lowest lows.

Coming off of Thanksgiving weekend and headed right into advent season, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. I always try to spend the month of November intentionally stirring up thankfulness in my heart — writing down the things I’m grateful for every day.

I wasn’t honestly that consistent with it this year, but here’s what I love about this practice: on the days I intentionally give thanks, I always find myself meeting with Jesus in ways I wouldn’t normally pay attention to in the mundane moments of my every day life.

There’s this thing that happens when we actually make room for Him (more on that later this week): we enter into His presence and it transforms us.

But it doesn’t just transform us. It shifts entire atmospheres, and it makes us see things through Heaven’s eyes instead of our own. I find myself noticing the hand of God at work in the tiniest corners of my heart that I didn’t even realize were there when I just stop and say thank you. I start to realize that what I’m actually doing when I train my mind towards gratitude is noticing the presence of a Savior who’s been there all along.

Last night at church, we served communion for the first time. (If you’re reading the blog for the first time, I’m on staff at a new church plant in Salt Lake City.) Our pastor talked about gratitude, and about shifting our focus from the gift to the Giver.

I stood there at the front, serving communion and holding a cup of grape juice masquerading as wine, and one by one I watched as people whose lives I’ve watched be transformed by Jesus these last few months came forward to say, “Thank you, Jesus. All I want is you.”

And one by one tears streamed down my face (a few of them landing in aforementioned glass of grape juice), as I thanked Him in my own heart, remembering all over again that when our hearts are fully yielded to Him, we can’t help but be grateful. We can’t help but be changed.

We can’t help but rejoice always. We can’t help but pray continually. Not because it’s what we should do. Because it’s all we know how to do.

Thank you Jesus.

SONG:

“Jesus I Come”
Elevation Worship
Wake Up the Wonder

Listen:
Apple Music  |  Spotify  |  YouTube

Playlist from previous weeks:
Apple Music  |  Spotify

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