PODCAST Ep6: What Are the Fears That Hold You Back?
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What are some of your common fears?

One of mine? Heights! Or maybe is it really getting hurt? I don’t know, maybe both. It seems to get weirder as I get older and the consequences of what that fear come to life could actually mean. I sit down on tall edges I have to make my way down instead of just jumping, I move my body to the center of the car when we’re driving precariously close to the edge of a mountain (as if that makes any difference at all).

Fears come in all shapes and sizes and although there are many things we could fear in this life, the fears we want to talk about today are the ones that hold us back from things God might be calling us to do. It could be anything from restoring a relationship, to writing that book, to starting that business, what is holding you back?

Just like me, we think leaning into the middle of the car will help us be safe, but it’s just an illusion, it makes us feel better in the moment but it’s not helping at all. We do have life experience that has hurt us and we, as human beings, generally want to avoid anything that could cause us pain or make us feel uncomfortable. We like safe and predictable. We might be bored, stuck, and even frustrated as we see others jump towards their thing but we aren’t so sure we are willing to give up “safe” for the risk.

The Lord knows how hard it is to be courageous. When Joshua takes over for Moses and God puts him in charge of leading the Israelites into the promise land He tells him over and over again to be strong and courageous, to not be frightened. If Joshua simply spent too much time comparing himself to Moses or recounting how the people responded the last time he came back and told them they should take the land, well he wouldn’t have gotten very far.

In a Ted Talk by Tim Ferris talks about an exercise he does every month called “Fear Setting”. Like goal setting, you take some time to make some lists, but instead of writing out your goals you really dig underneath what your thought processes are in your fears. He shares a quote that says, “We suffer more in imagination than reality” and I don’t know about you, but I have found this to be very true.

We can use this fear setting in any area of our lives where we generally make excuses as to why we aren’t doing something. For the sake of examples, I will go ahead and share the actual topic I used when I first heard about this as we go through each section.

Download THIS free worksheet I made for you that you can print out and fill in or simply write in a journal or notebook these questions…

1) What if I…..

This is where you fill in what you are afraid to do? It could be anything you’ve not been willing to face. For me, mine was….

What if I try and lose the weight AGAIN?

Now, in three columns place the titles

Worst possible thing that could happen?

What could I do to prevent these?

If it happens how could I fix it?

So my first column looked like this

Worst possible thing that could happen….

  1. Lose all the weight and gain it back (AGAIN)

  2. Hate the food

  3. Get bored

  4. people reject me

  5. I fail

  6. It’s too hard

  7. I gain weight

  8. I become proud

Now in response to all those I wrote the next column

What could I do to prevent each of these from happening?

  1. Don’t view it as temporary

  2. Learn to cook and find more recipes

  3. Switch up workout routines

  4. Get different people and let the ones who reject me go

  5. Keep going, don’t give up

  6. Make small goals and changes

  7. Start right now

  8. Take it to God, ask for His help, stay dependent

If these things happen how could I repair them or ask for help?

  1. Start again, you’re not a failure if you keep trying

  2. Give myself permission to eat my way of eating

  3. Change it up, join a dance class, hire a trainer

  4. If they reject me for being my best and most healthy self that resides in them and they were never my friend or don’t really have true love for me

  5. Try again, find a community of support, post your progress, redo what worked last time

  6. Find a different way, modify

  7. track your food, do the research, experiment until you find solutions

  8. Repent

When you have gone through this exercise and named your fear and even what you wonder might happen and then how you could respond to those outcomes, somehow it becomes a little less scary. You take something that is vague and frightening that exists in your subconscious and transfer it to the physical and make yourself look at it and tackle it.

Let’s not try and excuse ourselves from what it is God is calling us to by saying things that sound super spiritual to ourselves like we’re trying to remain humble or waiting on God. While both those things are good and important, there also comes a time to get out there and start moving toward the thing that God is calling you to. That might not mean stepping on a stage, but it might mean talking to that neighbor, pursuing reconciliation, or daring to believe that the dream you see in your heart, might actually be from God. We don’t love and serve our dreams, but what if they really are God and we are so scared we might be wrong and people will point that out to us, that we never try? We will be in blatant disobedience to God Almighty.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and love and of a sound mind.”

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A commentary called Ellicots Commentary for English Readers says this about this “spirit of fear”. It reads, “Or better, perhaps, the spirit of cowardice. It is a grave reminder to Christians of every age and degree that all cowardice, all dread of danger, all shrinking from doing one’s duty for fear of man’s displeasure, proceeds not from the Spirit of God.”

Here is the thing, the fears that we usually face as to why we are not stepping out usually have something to do with “man’s displeasure” with us. Why on earth are we putting up with living under this when God has not given us this? When we live under this idea, or that people will criticize or reject us, we are essentially saying, “I care what they think over what God has said”.

So what if you fail? What then? What if you get it wrong and spend time building something or working towards something that wasn’t “the thing”. When our hearts are surrendered to God (and we know when they are or not) we know that He will work all those things for His glory. The big thing is to remember this isn’t about us looking good, being fabulous, famous or being right about our own call, this is all about a faith that say, “I”m not sure but He is worthy of trying.”

Go and build.

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PODCAST Ep5: Identity. The Lord Knew Who He Was Getting When He Chose YOU!
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I say it all the time, maybe even too often, I love Peter from the Bible. Maybe the reason I love him so much is because I often wonder to myself how God could want or use someone as emotional, over analytical, or messed up as me, and then I think….Oh yeah, Peter.

Peter was chosen by Jesus in Mark 1:16-20,

“As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

You have to wonder if anyone wanted to run up to Jesus and give him a little disclaimer on the guy. “Listen Jesus, just so you know, you might want to rethink your choice there with Peter. He is a bit of a loose cannon, pretty bossy, thinks he is way smarter than he is, always speaks before he thinks and an overall flight risk.

I also have to wonder if Jesus might have responded by walking away with a half smile on his face thinking, “perfect”. Jesus didn’t choose Peter because he was perfect but because he was willing, He knew this man had a heart that would be willing to surrender again and again to Him.

Let’s go over just a few of Peter’s negative examples and see if we can find ourselves in amongst them at all?

  • He talks back to Jesus (Luke 5:4-8)

  • He demands answers (Matthew 15:15)

  • Leans on being overly spiritual (Matthew 18:21)

  • Missed the point even amidst good intentions (Matthew 17:4)

  • Wanted to prove his worth through sacrifice (Mark 10:28)

  • Prideful (Mark 8:32-33)

  • Acts before thinking (John 18:10)

  • Easily gave into temptation (Mark 14:37-38)

  • Compared himself to others (John 21:20-22)

  • Thought he knew better than Jesus (John 13:6-8)

I don’t know about you but I can see myself in every single one of those things. Things that I have often wondered should disqualify me.

But we know something else about this man, his name was not always Peter. He was Simon and when Jesus called him, He changed His name. Jesus knew who Peter really was, it wasn’t how he acted but who Jesus had made him to be. We might still find ourselves acting like a Simon but Jesus is calling to be Peter.

Jesus knew all these things would happen with Peter, that he would make mistakes and even deny him and he STILL chose him, flaws and all. God is not surprised by us, our struggles, our insecurities, He chose us knowing it all. He chose you knowing all those things that you wish weren’t a part of you, the parts that you wonder if you will ever be free from. He chose us knowing who we were but refusing to leave us there.

He knows your new name, your true self. The world, the Enemy, our flesh and wounds will pull at as constantly to stay who we are, but Jesus is calling us higher to become all He intended us to be.

In John 13 Jesus is telling them that He has to wash their feet and Peter, being his extreme self does not want Jesus to do such a thing, but Jesus tells Peter He must. He says to Peter and He says to us all too often, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter’s response sounds exactly like me, “NEVER shall you wash my feet”. Jesus persists with, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

Jesus knew all He was about to suffer, that this man, his friend and follower, had no clue of his own weakness and that he would betray him only moments later and yet, there He was, willing to get down to the dirties part of Peter and wash him clean. He knows how often we fail us, and yet there He is still serving us and loving us, far beyond what we deserve.

The washing was symbolic, we cannot earn our place in Christ or identity by doing all the right things, it is only by allowing the King of Glory come in and wash us clean.

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The commentary from Barnes says this was what Jesus was saying, “Unless by my doctrine and spirit I shall purify you and remove your pride, your lack of constant watchfulness, your anger, your timidity and fear, you can have no part in me.” We have to surrender to His washing to find who we are, otherwise we have nothing in common with Him. When we are washed by Him, however, we become possessed by what matters to Him, interested in His work, and participate in His glory.

Almost immediately after this conversation Jesus continues on as documented in Luke 22:31-32 and with great sadness He tells Peter, still calling him by his present name, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Washed and sifted.

If you find yourself in this struggle, know that this is part of Jesus giving us a new name, an identity that is no longer chained to our lack but set free in His power.

Peter went on to betray Jesus and weep over his grief and lack. Why did Jesus allow this? Why does He allow it in our lives? I would propose that it is because He has to allow us to understand where our strength ends, even in our best intentions, and where His begins.

Jesus restores Peter on the beach not by reprimanding him or guilting him but by asking him a question, one He asks us as well, “Do you love me?”

This is the only thing that really matters. Even when we fail and walk through cleansing and sifting Jesus chose us because He knew what our hearts would answer, “YES!” His response, “feed my sheep!”

After Jesus’ resurrection and the Holy Spirit came, Peter was never referred to as Simon again. He was made new.

Do it for us too Lord! Restore our hearts, set us on fire for you, let us run wildly in love with you as we go to feed your sheep!

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PODCAST Ep4: How to Handle Comparison

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It is so easy in this day in age to find ourselves feeling awful about ourselves as we scroll past friends lives that seem so much greater than our own, worse than that internet strangers. Comparison is a hurdle we will all deal with in one way or another if we choose to participate in social media at all, so let’s dig into why we might compare and then some ways we might address it.

The outcome of comparison usually makes us feel bad about ourselves and when that happens in order to protect our own hearts often we begin to judge people to whom we are drawing this comparison. It’s easier to villainize someone we see as yelling at us subconsciously that we are not enough, coming up with all the reasons why we have come to the conclusion they are “better, more successful, etc” than us. They must be bad at…fill in the blank. If we can justify their success is somehow bad, for that moment it relieves us, but ultimately we end up back in square one and have added some resentment into the mix.

No matter how we tackle this issue on the surface it is so vital that we do some digging and ask ourselves what is at the root of this problem? Who are the people who really seem to trigger us? What is it about them? Why do we think that is? Instead of just feeling the feelings and jumping into our coping mechanisms, unearth the pain that comes up and where it may reside in our hearts. What is the belief we have bought about our unworthiness? Has this woman actually intended to make us feel this way, is it really her fault, or is it something I have yet to let Jesus have full access to in my brokenness?

Let me be super honest with where I am at in my life right now, I am struggling with my self worth like I haven’t in a long time, for a very shallow reason, my hair. Back in May I got it done and perhaps the bleach was left on too long, but it is fried and there is no help for it. Yep, I have watched every YouTube tutorial on what to do, what to use, bought so many oil treatments, leave in conditioners and had moisture treatments done at a salon and the only real solution is to let it grow. The last hairdresser I went to told me it would be two years till my hair was back to normal.

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f you know me you know hair has been my thing. I have never been that stylish, never been great at makeup, always have had extra fluff on this old body, but I always have appreciated the resilience of my hair. If I told you the truth, almost any time I get ready to go somewhere that my hair has to look presentable I either cry or just feel awful about myself. My dark roots are growing out and I don’t dare add more color on, and if you are reading this post I will bless you with the reality of this hair below. What is it about the fact that I know that it’s going to be a far fetched dream for me to think I will ever feel pretty between now and 2021 that makes me just want to hide in my bedroom and never come out..

All of the sudden everyone has beautiful, soft, glorious locks and comparison has come to scream at me and mock me while it’s at it. I know it’s “just hair” but in this season of struggle is a new question, “how can I keep showing up, keep loving others, and keep believing God even when feeling so awful about myself?” It’s easy for it to snowball and let insecurity start defining us, rather than God, looking at all we’re not that we wish we were.

We believe somewhere deep down, sometimes greater in one season than another, that we are not acceptable, lovable, worthy. I don’t know about you but I assume people are going to be as mean to me as I am to myself and so building walls , judging other, pushing others away, seems much safer. Like an exposed nerve we react than daring to hold still and saying, “even right now, even in my lack, even when my heart hurts so bad and I don’t feel like I have anything to offer, please help me receive your love.” When we dig to the bottom and we find what is underneath the pain we experience in comparison we find that other people often have little to do with what it is we’re truly struggling with.

Another thought we might struggle with is when we see someone else experiencing or walking in something we want or have been praying for the Enemy comes to lie to us that God somehow loves her more, has accepted her and rejected us. Not true. It is not true that there is only so much love, gifting, blessing and when someone else has it there is none left for us. As many flowers there are on the earth, or hair types, or laughs, is the reflection of a creative God who knows what He is doing in our differences. Comparison means that we believe that who God has made us, the season He has us in, and the life that we’re living is wrong, that He is getting it wrong, that we are, but if we are trusting and following God we can embrace that even when it’s not looking exactly how we might want it to, He is still loving us best.

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The famous quote says, “We are comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s high lite reels.” We know what we are dealing with and how hard it is sometimes, but what if we let God love us in the middle of that? We don’t know what they’re walking through many times either, let’s have grace for ourselves and grace for others.

We may continue to struggle with this, but we can put some things in place to help us fight against it. One thing we can do is learn how to define for ourselves what we call “SUCCESS”. If we think what ever someone else is doing is what we have to do in order to be successful we will always struggle and always feel like we aren’t measuring up but we can re frame our thinking, take our thoughts captive and put on the mind of Christ. Maybe for us, success is that our children are joyful and feel secure? Maybe it’s getting three workouts done in a week? Maybe it’s getting a date night with our husband or spending good, quality time with the Lord in His Word and worshiping Him. Maybe our success is too ambiguous and so we’re always seeming to reach for something, but it’s not even really what we want. What is it that God, not our society defines as successful?

We can also ask ourselves, what is it that is triggering us and what can we do to guard ourselves? If we are in a struggling season or just know what get’s us into a comparison zone, let’s not do the things that bring us those thoughts. For me, it’s not scrolling through social media, sometimes at all. We can torture ourselves in this capacity when we don’t have to. We can put our phones down and run to the Lord and say honestly, “My heart hurts Lord, please help me!”

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In John 21 we see Peter being restored by Jesus and Him prophesying to Peter all the things that He would suffer for Jesus’ sake. We see John saunter up and Peter asks the Lord, “What about him?” Jesus answers him as He answers us, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” The only one we can be responsible for how they followed Jesus, is ourselves. Keep following Him bravely!

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PODCAST Ep3: Accepting the Seasons That We're In

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Just like our calendar year, our lives have seasons. Many times we want to hurry them along or make them last forever, but every season that we find ourselves in has it’s purpose.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 we see that Solomon tells us there are specified times for everything; a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest, a time to kill and heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to weep a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, etc.

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If you’re anything like me, I want to be enjoying that harvest time, all the time, but we know just by observing the world around us that this is just not realistic. It’s so easy to get frustrated because our seasons that are planting, or pruning, or waiting, are a lot longer than we would like them to be. But just like the trees, or the land, we go through cycles and each one must precede the next in order for the process to be complete.

Maybe you’re in a rainy season? Rain is necessary, rain is an intricate part of growth, we can even pray for and enjoy rain, but when it rains much longer than we thought possible, we begin to resent it. We get to a point where we throw up our hands and say, "OK! I have had about enough of this now! Are we done?” Rain, however, must proceed the sowing season.

According to WomenintheBible.net, “(In Bible times) Sowing took place after the first rains soften the ground.” Before the seeds could be planted, the ground had to be made ready. Have their been times when our hearts have been hardened to something God wants to do and maybe He allows a ton of rain in our lives for a more pliable ground? Things in our lives that we may have never even considered looking at in our lives or our hearts, but after a long season of rain, we find ourselves open to all God wants to day or say. The article goes on to say that if the farmer tried to plow before the rain, the blade could not dig into the ground. On top of that, the farmer readies the ground by throwing fertilizer on it, and we all know what that is? We want growth, we want harvest, but all we can think is, “This stinks!”

Once we make it to seeding season, we are excited, we are ready, the rain has stopped, it’s time to be planted. The seeds are put deep down and we are filled with expectation only to be met with lots and lots of waiting. How long does it take for something to grow in the ground? How long does it take for something to grow in our hearts and lives? Not a day, not a week, but usually months and months of waiting. We are buried in that season, little sprouts taking root, it’s happening, but it’s dark, it’s hard to see and more rain often accompanies being planted.

You see, while we’re planted, the farmer (God) has to also worry about other things. Is there enough rain? What about the pests coming in looking to eat what has been planted? These things come to disrupt our growth. Have we gone far too long without connecting to our source of Go’s Word and worship, causing a dryness in our soul that causes seeds to shrivel and shrink as we cower underneath the weight of our unbelief. Do we believe lies and allow them to steal the seeds and convince us they were never sown at all. We allow our doubts to reign as we wait because it’s just been so long. As we wait, trust the season, remain faithful.

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BUT, after the time has passed, the seed has grown, and the obstacles have been withstood, harvest always comes. What has been planted, watered, and grown over all the time it needs, always bears fruit, we can count on it. Once again however, we come to realize, this is not when it ends, the harvest is often the part that is the hardest. For farmers this is a huge task to undertake, reaping all that has been grown.

And there we are, with a harvest of what has come into our lives, our hearts our souls and we rest. But what do farmers do in this season of rest? Just sit there and count their produce? Hardly, this is the time when they work on and repair and prepare for yet another round of seasons.

Where are we in our season? We can ask the question, “ how can I cooperate with what you want to do in my life while I am here?” We have to trust in each part and purpose that this season holds. The breakthrough is such a small part in all the growing process, but of this we can be sure, just because we can’t see what is happening doesn’t mean nothing is.

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Ashley JacksonComment