Don’t Worry; Be Happy!

Picture2The Bible is full of admonitions not to worry, not to be fearful, to rejoice in the LORD, and to accept Christ’s peace, but how do we do that in the day to day? And what do we do when our emotions rebel against our head? 😉 Today I’m thrilled to have my dear friend, critique partner, and fellow Christ to the World writer back with us sharing her heart on how she believes we can maintain a joyful heart.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy! By Tanya Eavenson1120282_laughter

Do you remember that song by Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy?” Instinctively I start to sing the next line before my lips can follow along, landing somewhere along here:

“Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo,  don’t worry  oo-oo-oo-oo   be happy now  Oo-oo-oo”

There’s just something about that song that makes you want to sing and smile. You can’t help yourself.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, I like the cheerful heart better than the crushed spirit. Don’t you? But sometimes things happen in our lives or the lives of others around us, causing a chain reaction that is out of our control and affects us in some way.

What do we do? Do we humble ourselves and pray, or do we worry?

Philippians 4: 6 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Scripture tells us we should pray; when we do, “7 …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God will give you peace in every situation and it’s not just any peace, or one we create for ourselves the lasts one minute and is gone the next. But a peace that we can’t understand that calms us to our very core, one that comes from the Father, reassuring us that we aren’t alone.

At the beginning of Philippians 4, scripture very clearly calls us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I know it’s not easy to rejoice all the time, but God is saying to choose to rejoice in any and all circumstances. Not because of your circumstances, but to rejoice in Him– Who He is, His love for you, for your life in Him. Rejoice! For the Lord is near!

If we take a step back and look at our lives, not our circumstances, but what Christ has done for us and His grace, we can only rejoice. And if you’re rejoicing, your heart is a cheerful heart and good medicine for your soul.

Which do you choose?

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

When talking about fear vs. faith, worry vs. prayer, I often think of the verse Tanya referenced, Ephesians 4:6-7. Read it again, taking notice of the words in bold:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When you present requests to God, how often have you paused to thank Him for what He’s done? I’ve found, when I do so, suddenly, my current problems diminish in light of His power demonstrated by His faithful acts. For example, if I’m concerned about our finances, when I pause to thank Him for all the ways He’s provided for our family in the past, I remember He’s always provided for our needs, so why should this instance be any different?

I’ve often found negative thinking breeds negative thinking and fear, if left unchecked, begets more fear. But how can actively determining our thoughts, or, as the Bible says, taking our thoughts captive, help us combat fear?

What are you worried about today? What aspects of God’s nature combat that fear? I encourage you to write ten things you know to be true about God. Keep those written attributes with you, and when you begin to feel fear creeping in, pull them out and pray them, thanking God for being who He is.

(If you struggle with fear and/or anxiety, you might find the following article helpful: Battling Anxiety.)

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Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

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Should We Fear God?

Picture2This is a frequent topic in many Christian circles, and one we’ve covered not long ago. In fact, in my Yahoo Bible Study group, the  question of what it means to fear the LORD led to quite a discussion. A discussion that evoked enough questions that reminded me of how important the answer is to our Christian walk. You see, how we view God often radically impacts how we relate to Him. We all have gut ideas of who God is, but the question we must continually ask: How close do our impressions mirror reality? Today, debut author and Christ to the World writer Tanya Eavenson invites us to dig a bit deeper, laying aside our preconceived ideas so we can receive God in His fullness.

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 15

This week’s memory verse: Proverbs 15:15 For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 15:33 The Fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom….

Should We Fear God by Tanya Eavenson

 I don’t care much for the word “Fear.” The Webster Dictionary defines it as “to be afraid of.”

Personally, I avoid anything causes me to be afraid. For instance, you’ll never find me sky diving because I fear falling —and I don’t like heights so that would definitely be a problem.

So why would Solomon use the word “Fear?” Why does he tell us “To fear God?” Not a great way to make people want a relationship with Him.

But wait. Webster also says to fear means “to have reverential awe of.”

In the first 6 verses of Proverbs, Solomon says his reason for writing the book is for you to know God.  Chapter 1, verse 7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Solomon wanted us to have the same knowledge and wisdom he himself grasped. How did he get it? The same way we can today—by building a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” What about you—who do you say he is? Does God seem like someone who hovers somewhere in space waiting for you to sin so he can condemn you? Maybe you think of God, but He’s not as important as your family because you can’t see Him? Maybe you have faith in God but you can’t remember the last time you picked up your Bible outside of church. Let’s look at what God says about his relationship with us.

Jeremiah 33 says, “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”Faith

Solomon is saying to know God, is to know WHO He is, the Maker of the heavens and earth. The One who formed the earth, formed you and loves you with such passion and intensity, He sent His son, Jesus to die in your place. God doesn’t want an acquaintance; He wants you. Your heart, mind and soul. Not to control you, but so you will have His heart for the lost, your mind to know His will for your life, and your soul so you can spend eternity with Him. He wants you. He wants to love you.

As Jeremiah says, call to Him. God WILL answer you. He’ll tell you great things, unsearchable things, a knowledge and wisdom that only comes from Him.

So how can you obtain this wisdom? By putting God in His rightful place in your life and calling upon Him. He alone will teach you wisdom.

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

How does your view of God affect your faith?

We all have a gut-knowledge of who we believe God to be. This gut knowledge is often based on numerous things–things we’ve heard, past experiences, interactions with imperfect humans. But God is real–a Person, and just like I can form all sorts of opinions and assumption about my spouse or friend or people I encounter, just because I believe something about them doesn’t make it so. To get to know who they really are, I need to *come to them.* Spend time with them. Listen to who they say they are. 

I believe we all have false ideas of who God is that creep in when we are not aware. As I’ve said, these ideas often operate on a gut level, meaning, they are rooted in feelings or assumptions outside of Scripture. I’ll give an example. Prior to getting sick, I had a general lack of compassion for others who were sick. I saw sickness as weakness that could be overcome. (Sorry!) Then, I got sick, and despite my best efforts to “man-up,” I stayed sick. My hidden assumption based on a faulty gut-impression? God was punishing me for my lack of compassion previously. As you can imagine, this gut-impression, which was not based on what God has or is showing me in Scripture, affected my relationship with Him–began to hinder my prayer life, and instead of turning to Him on tough days, I began to shy away from Him. Instead of receiving His comfort, I assumed judgement and disappointment. Luckily God is ever-gracious, gentle, nurturing, and supportive, always drawing us to Himself and His truth as revealed in Scripture, and despite my faithlessness, He showed Himself loving and faithful. But I suspect we all have those gut-impressions–those thoughts that, as untrue as we know them to be, threaten to steal our peace, joy, and divine intimacy. Today I encourage you to spend some time in prayer, asking God to expose your false ideas of who He is, then inviting Him to replace them with truth.
You can share your thoughts in the comments below or join our online Bible study:

Click to join ProverbsStudy

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When Transparency is Hard

Last night I walked away from church thinking, “Wow, did I share too much?” This is a common thought for me. It’s so easy to hide behind an “everything’s fine” slogan, presenting the perfect image for everyone to see, but I think the upkeep is unbearable. And it only demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of grace. Grace doesn’t say, “Get it all together, then come”. Grace says, “Come as you are.” But unfortunately, we live in a sinful world where judgments are made every day, and we’re gonna get hurt. Most often by those we trust the most. But that doesn’t mean we add another brick to our heavily-mortared walls or pull the covers over our heads. It means we keep our eyes on Jesus, and stay rooted in His love.

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. To be honest, over the years, it has often been the body of Christ that has hurt me the most. During those times when I shared a portion of my heart, only to find it smashed beneath heavy combat boots, or when I offered a helping hand only to be  shot down. And for a period of time, I hid in my safe little house behind my computer screen. But then God began to stir in my heart. I think I heard Him strongest when I sat and listened to an older lady who had been a Christian for over fifty years recall her journey. I didn’t hear anything about her struggles, fears, temporary bitterness, and even occasional rebellion. True, she may have been a spiritual powerhouse who never faltered, not once, not even when she was sitting in an African Bushman’s shack watching ginormous bugs crawl up the walls, but I don’t think so. I have a hard time believing that she was able to stay above the fray, consistently, for fifty years. Unless she had somehow managed to shed off her humanity. I do, however, think her intentions were good. She wanted to glorify God and help others see the all-surpassing peace that comes from resting in His hands, but unfortunately, by omitting the struggles that brought her there, she clouded the path, leaving others just beginning their journey to navigate this thing called Christianity alone.

About a year ago, I felt God nudging at the deepest recesses of my heart, urging to me to lay it all out there–to be real. To show others what it means to fail again and again and again, only to find yourself more deeply rooted in grace. And so, I am continuing in obedience, even if it’s uncomfortable. Even if it causes me a few friends along the way, because somewhere, sometime, an empty soul will happen across my writing and will, by the grace of God, lift up their eyes to the one who pulled me from the pit. And I think it is that realization, the understanding that there are others out there struggling even more than I, searching for the faintest glimmers of hope, that keeps me throwing my dirty laundry on the line. And when I face rejection, when someone more “spiritual” than I cringes at the depths of my depravity, I’ll brush it off and turn my eyes back on my Savior, the One who knows the extent of my sin and yet loves me anyway.

Maybe you’re struggling with this very thing. Trying to live up to a societal or “religious” standard, bouncing from one church to the next with a forced smile on your face and a “God is good” slogan popping out of your overly-cheery lips. Or maybe you’ve opened your heart up only to find it broken and smeared. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that somehow if you do A or B, that will magically change and people will respond to you with the unconditional, accepting love of Christ, but I can tell you that He will never turn you away. When everyone else fails you, He never will. And for me, resting in that freedom–the freedom of knowing that I am dearly loved and totally accepted, has made all the difference in the world.

Tomorrow I have a guest writer on my “Till Death Do We Part” column, and it is my prayer that you are as touched by her story as I was. It shares some very deep struggles and moments of total faithlessness, and I  know it was hard for her to write. But as I read her email I realized her desire to comfort others overcame her desire for self-protection. Now that is love–loving others enough to open yourself up for judgment and rejection. Stop by Reflections in Hindsight tomorrow to hear how God resurrected a dying faith and marriage.