Is Fear Making Your Decisions for You?

We all have to make big decisions in our lives. But how are we making those decisions? Are they made in faith or fear? How do we know which decision is the right one? Read more to find out!

Have you ever been faced with a decision and wondered which path is the right one to take?

I’m sure you have. We all have. Life is based on decisions. Lots of these decisions we make automatically, barely thinking about them. This morning, you made the decision to get out of bed and start your day. Other times, we have to make really big, “life-altering” decisions—where to go to school, what job to accept, who to marry. Other decisions are critical, but we don’t put enough emphasis on them. Who will we spend our time serving? How will we treat those around us?

Recently, I was talking to a close friend of mine. She is currently working her first “real job” after graduating college, and is faced with the decision of whether or not she should continue her education.

As we talked, I shared that recently, I’ve caught myself making a lot of decisions out of fear. I choose one option just because I’m fearful of the alternative. When we’re faced with a challenge, it’s often easier to take the easy route (which may not have as many benefits) instead of the more challenging path (although it could reap a richer harvest).

How often do we pray about a big (or small) decision we have to make, only to pick the easier or less-scary one? I think if we really consider the last few significant choices we made, we will find that one—or several—of those choices was made out of fear.

But God doesn’t want us to live like that. Over and over in Scripture, we are told to “not fear” and “be not afraid”. God is not a God of fear. He is a God of love and courage and blessing. He is a brave God. And we can have that bravery.

Next time you’re wondering which path God wants you to take, consider whether or not fear is a factor. God will never use fear to guide you. He guides by love. Satan will try to steer you away from God’s will with fear. Perhaps the route you’re fearing is actually the route God wants you to take.

God will not bring you to something if it is not His will. Even though you may be fearful, He is with you. Always.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(2 Tim. 1:7)

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Is Love a Good Enough Reason to Get Married?

I’m back, folks! I’m sorry for sadly abandoning my blog-posting…I had a crazy-busy summer that concluded with me getting married to my favourite person at the end of September. And now that the wedding, honeymoon, and work craziness is over…ROUTINE. Finally.

Most of us look for our "one true love" to marry. But have you ever thought that maybe finding someone you respect is just as important, if not more so? Click here to read more!

Great. So now that she’s married, she thinks she can give marriage advice. But this is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot throughout my 3-year relationship with William. In the months and days leading up to the wedding, I asked myself (a lot), how do I know if I really love him? My love for William hadn’t really been tested a whole lot before the wedding. We hadn’t gone through any tragedies. He had never broken my trust. What if I just thought I loved him and we couldn’t make it when stuff really did happen?

I agonized—and by that I mean that I let worry ruin my whole week on more than one occasion—over this. I finally came to this conclusion: I wasn’t 100% sure that I loved him.

But I did know this: there was (and is) no other guy in the world that I respect more than William.

Respect or Love?

Ask someone who is getting married why they’re getting married, and you’ll probably hear, “Because I love him.” But is that really a good enough reason to marry someone?

A lot of us have heard the marriage mantra “Women need love and men need respect”. And it makes sense. Most guys want to be looked up to, while most women have a deep need to be cherished. But have you ever looked at this from a Biblical view?

The passage of Ephesians 5 is a popular one for marriage. You can check out the whole chapter here, but I’m going to just reference the last verse of the chapter:

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

(Eph. 5:33)

God created men and women, and He created marriage. So He knows what it takes for a marriage to work. And yet, God doesn’t actually say that I need to love William. Of course, we all are to show each other the love of God—but in the marriage context, Paul points out that men need to make it a priority to love their wives sacrificially, and women are to respect their husbands unconditionally.

As a woman, I need to feel loved first. If William provided for me and respected me consistently but I didn’t feel love, nothing else would matter to me. As a woman, I naturally tend to stay in that “love first” line of thinking, since that’s what my needs look like.

But the reality is that in regard to my husband, I need to be thinking “respect first”. When I respect him, everything else flows. When I respect William, I want to please him. I want to check with him before making a decision because I value his wisdom and input. If I have a problem, I go to him first because I look up to him.

The S-word: submission.

Respecting our husbands is especially important because in a Christian marriage, we as wives are commanded to submit to our husbands. I know, some of us don’t like that word. But submission is necessary in a healthy, God-honouring relationship.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

(Eph. 5:22 – 24)

Submission doesn’t mean not having a brain and letting your husband make all the decisions. God gave you a brain—use it! Give your opinion to your husband. Help him to make the decisions. But at the end of the day, you need to support him in whatever decision he makes. Don’t complain about the decision for the next five weeks and refuse to let the matter rest.

When we submit to our husbands, good things come out of it. They feel respected. They know that we’re looking up to them and trusting them to make the right decision. They also feel empowered to do what’s best. When I submit to William, I’m saying “I trust you”, and his response is appreciation and then love towards me.

It’s a cycle that I have the power to start or stop. When I respect William, his natural response is to love me more. When I feel loved, I want to respect him.

Finding someone you respect.

Often we confuse love with infatuation. We think whoever we have the strongest emotions towards is the one we should be with. But the problem is, sometimes those emotions are born out of pity or solely physical attraction. We feel bad for the guy who can’t keep a girlfriend, so we go out with them. Or we chase after the guy who has the best looks without looking at his character.

When I told my dad that I liked William, the very first question he asked me was, “Do you admire this guy?” At first I was like, “Uh, yeah…I like him, so…” But as I thought about it, I realized there was a lot about him that I respected. My dad followed that question up with the comment, “You’ll never be able to respect a guy you don’t admire.” And that has proven to be so true in our relationship.

So look around you. Who do you look up to? Who do you respect or admire? Is there someone in your life who has an incredible servant’s heart? Does he love others unconditionally? Is he the hands and feet of Jesus to the people in his life?

Find someone who you can respect, and the other factors will fall into place.

Is respect important in your relationship with your husband?

What are some ways you show respect to your husband?

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Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

Hello all! Welcome to the second part of the Having a Heart of Gold series! In this mini-series, we’ve been looking at having a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. Last week, we talked about why following your heart may not always be the best answer. (If you haven’t read that post yet, you can check it out by clicking here!) This week, we’re talking about guarding your heart—what does that even mean? And why does it matter? Keep reading to find out!

You've probably heard about "guarding your heart" in the context of dating. But have you ever thought of guarding your heart in other areas of life? Why is guarding our hearts so important? In this post, I explain why it's important and give you some practical tips to guard your heart and bring you closer to God!

Usually when someone tells you to “guard your heart,” when your thirteen, they basically mean don’t get too attached to a boy until you’re ready to date. But we all should be guarding our hearts in some way for the rest of our lives.

What do I mean when I say “guard” your heart? Webster’s Dictionary defines guard as this:

a state in which someone is carefully looking for possible danger, threats, problems, etc.

From this, I would define guarding your heart in the Christian context as looking for any possible threats to your heart—temptations, envy, anger, gossip, etc. So why is guarding your heart important?

The Bible gives a really good–and simple–reason in Proverbs 4 (ESV):

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Other versions say to “guard” your heart, for “everything you do” flows from it. As discussed in the first part of this series, our heart affects everything we do. Our emotions, thoughts, and actions all originate in the heart. It’s such an integral part of our being that we can’t afford to leave it be. When our heart is wise, it is evident in every area of our lives:

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. (Ecc. 10:2 – 3)

So how can we guard our hearts? There are definitely things we need to guard our hearts from…but how do we do that?

Ask God to create a new heart in you.

When we try to become wise, we become our own kinda wise–which is really foolishness to God. On our own, we can’t guard our hearts. That would be like trying to create weapons out of trees and branches against Satan’s nuclear weapons–it just won’t work.

However, when we ask God for His heart, He gives us just that–the super-tough Satan-proof stuff. We have new desires and new thoughts. When you ask Him to, He will give you the strength to resist Satan.

Ask God to show you areas that are attacking your heart.

Unfortunately, we often have a hard time seeing beyond ourselves. It doesn’t usually go well when we’re all courageous and say, “Temptation? Pfff…I got this.” Yeah…notsomuch. But when we ask God to specifically point out the areas of our lives that maybe aren’t actually turning us toward Him, He will gently convict (or two-by-four-over-the-head convict) you of things that are actually attacking your relationship with Him. Are there people in your life who are pulling you away from Christ? Are there things distracting you from spending time with God? Do you have any desires that are pulling you from Christ?

Make the (uber-tough) decision to put those things aside.

…And if need be, actively pray against them. We are fighting a war here. Christianity isn’t a feel-good philosophy to get us through life and make us moral people. It’s a battle against evil with the promised victory of eternal life. Things won’t change just because you want them to. Prayer is required–regular, sincere, battle-worthy prayer. As you pray against those things pulling you from God, also concentrate on the things that encourage your walk with Christ and build God’s armor around yourself. A heart of good character won’t just happen, but it will become stronger as you build into it.

As you go into this week, allow me to challenge you to find one thing that you need to guard against. Ask God to help you to guard your heart, and be willing to make life changes to become closer to His.

Are there things in your life that threaten your heart-armor?

How do you overcome these things?

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life (you’re reading it now!)
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Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?

Hello all! Welcome to the first week of the Having a Heart of Gold series! Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at what it means to have a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. This week, we’re talking about why following your heart may not be the answer to life’s tough decisions. So grab an iced coffee & your favourite throw blanket (if you’re an iced-coffee-and-cute-throw kinda person) and read on!

The world says "Just follow your heart," -- but is this really a good idea? How do we stay "true to ourselves" and yet follow God's leading at the same time? Does God care about our desires? Click here to read more!

So…the heart. It’s a simple enough concept, yet ask any three people what the heart is, and you’ll get a variety of answers. A muscle that runs the whole body. A bit of your mind, soul, and body all wrapped into one. Your capacity to love and be loved and build relationships. There are so many different things that the heart is. In reality, all these are true. The heart is complex and capable of hundreds of emotions, desires, and thoughts, and is significant in every part of life.

If the heart is so many things, what does it mean to follow your heart? When I hear people say this or apply it to a situation, I usually understand it to mean following your “true desires” or dreams. To be honest, I think that the phrase “Just follow your heart!” is a very dangerous one. But before you decide that I am totally uptight & nuts-o, please hear me out.

Here’s my type-A, eldest-child logic. We are not perfect, right? In fact, we’re flat-out sinful creatures, born with the strong tendency to want to disobey God. Correct? So why do we think that following our own heart is always the right move? How can we trust our emotions and desires when we are inherently sinful?

The heart is no exception to our self-serving nature. Jeremiah had strong words about the heart. Chapter 17, verse 9 says this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

God is not satisfied with the situation of our hearts. In fact, when we become Christians, God gives us a new heart. In Ezekiel 36, He promises us this:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

If the Bible is so clear about the condition of our heart before Christ, and God’s desire to change our heart, why do we think it’s a good idea to blindly follow the desires of our hearts? If we want to make the right decision, should we not seek  to follow the heart of the One who is perfect and true and in Whom there is no fault?

When we follow our hearts, we are following our emotions that are happening right now, in the present moment. This is dangerous because emotions change, and they are not reality. God warns us against allowing emotions to rule our lives. In Proverbs, fools are people who speak based on their emotions and act on how they feel. When we follow our feelings, we simply aren’t being wise.

The truth is this: when we choose to follow our hearts, we are choosing our own desires above God. Click To Tweet

Am I saying you should completely ignore your heart? Nope! God gave us our hearts and the desires that go with them for a reason. He made us with free will, and we should not deny or ignore the things He puts in our hearts. God works through our hearts to accomplish His purpose (I’ll come back to this later).

God knows the desires of our hearts; whether it’s a certain job you’ve always wanted, an opportunity that seems to good to pass up, or even a lifestyle choice such as marriage. He knows. God doesn’t think our desires are petty or insignificant. He takes each one of our desires seriously. In Psalm 37, He even gives us this promise:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

God does not want us to be joy-less all our lives. He wants to fill our desires. But there’s a catch.

Yes, God loves us and wants us to be filled with His joy (notice I didn’t say “He wants us to be happy”?). But first, we must delight ourselves in Him. That means that He is first, and we do His will and are obedient to Him first. Then, and only then, will He give us the desires we have. In Matthew 6:32 & 33, He gives us this promise:

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The reality is that as we focus on God and seek His will, our desires will start to align with His. There will be desires that you thought were very real; yet when you start to focus on what God wants for you rather than what you want, you find that those things weren’t as important as you thought or they weren’t real desires.

On the other hand, desires you didn’t know you had will come to light and plant themselves deep in your soul. You may become passionate about things you didn’t know you cared about, and God will start to do amazing things through you.

When we start to seek the will of God rather than our longing, we become closer to Him and our whole life becomes re-prioritized. God changes our hearts and works in us to complete His will and fulfill us.

We will never be truly satisfied until we refocus on Christ. Click To Tweet

God may also ask for us to give Him a desire of ours. And it may totally suck. Sometimes, He takes that longing and says, “My child, you think you want this. But I know that it will not truly fulfill you, and I have something much better planned. Will you trust Me?” Other times, He asks for it only for a time and gives it back later. He asks us to trust Him. And in return…He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea? (you’re reading it now!)
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the desires of your heart?

How are you giving that desire to God?

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How to Stop Being Critical of Others (and Not Fake It)

As Christians, it's so easy to compare ourselves to others...and so easy to criticize. But what's the line between being honest about someone's issues and being critical of them? Find out here!

 

It’s so easy to become critical. So easy to take one action of someone else and categorize them as a certain type of person, or assume they will be a certain way.

One way Christians combat this attitude towards others is to not judge. “Just try not to be judgmental,” we tell others…and ourselves. We all tend to be critical of others. “They just need to smarten up and get a job, then they would get somewhere in life,” or “If they would just be nicer, maybe they’d have more friends.” On the one hand, it’s one thing to stop ourselves from assuming the worst. It can be as simple as believing the best of people or reminding ourselves that we don’t know what kind of day they’re having.

But here’s what I’ve really struggled with. How do I stop being critical of someone else, when I know that they are wrong? How do I change my attitude when I know that they actually do have some things to deal with in their life?

It completely bothers me when someone clearly has some character flaws, and people just out-and-out ignore it. They say, “It’s okay, they had a hard childhood” or “I’m sure there’s a reason they’re that way”—I’m sure there’s a reason for the behaviour, but that doesn’t make it okay.

Here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter what’s in someone’s past; they have to allow God to work through their lives. We all have junk. But Jesus is bigger than our junk, and He is 100% capable of making us into new creatures.

We all have things in our past. But Jesus has set us free, and we have a bright future. Click To Tweet

All that being said…how am I supposed to look at a person, know their flaws and be completely honest about it, yet still not be critical? How do I look beyond the flaw and see Jesus? How do I see that person as a child of God?

The truth is, we can’t. We can’t see that person as God sees them, because we’re human. We’re flawed too. We are sinful, so we get stuck on other people’s sinfulness.

So how do we love the unlovable?

RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN FLAWS.

We need to recognize that we are also flawed. We have stuff to deal with, too. We need to be humble and treat others as greater than ourselves. Just like Jesus brought Himself low for us, we need to ask God to bring us low so that we can love others.

ASK GOD TO LOVE THEM FOR YOU.

We also need to ask God to love that person through us. It is totally okay to go to God and say, “Lord, I just can’t love this person. I’m incapable of it. But you love them more than I’ll ever know. Love them through me, and use me to show Your love to them.”

We aren’t perfect. God doesn’t expect us to love every person just as He does. We can’t. We literally are not capable of loving everyone by God’s standards. But when we ask God to love someone through us, He shows up.

Today, I want to challenge you. Pick someone in your life who is unlovable, and ask God to love them through you. Watch the difference it makes! When we love others, we are a true image of Christ.

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