Julie Van Gorp

Your Freedom is Costly: Treasure It, Share It!

I enjoy gathering with family and friends for food, fellowship and fireworks on the 4th of July holiday, and I imagine you do too. As I participate in the festivities, I’m reminded that our founding fathers and their families paid a tremendous price in order for us to enjoy the freedoms we have in this great nation— like the freedom of religion and speech— that are in jeopardy today and that we all too often take for granted. Although they had security as far as the world measures it, each of the signers of the declaration valued liberty more than their belongings, even their lives. They pledged the following to one another:

“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Many people are unaware of the sacrifices they did in fact make. The British captured five of the signers during the war, including Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, and Arthur Middleton, and George Walton was wounded as well as captured. Richard Stockton was captured and never recovered from his incarceration by British Loyalists and he died in 1781. John Adams received a letter from Thomas McKean who wrote that he was "hunted like a fox by the enemy - compelled to remove my family five times in a few months." The British captured two of Abraham Clark’s sons during the war.

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The homes and property of eleven signers were destroyed. Francis Lewis's home was demolished and his wife was taken prisoner. John Hart's farm and mills were destroyed when the British invaded New Jersey, and he died while fleeing capture. Carter Braxton and Nelson lent large sums of their personal fortunes to support the war effort, and they were never repaid. They were willing to sacrifice so much because they knew the liberties they were fighting for were their ‘unalienable rights’, given to them by their Creator God.

The reality is that freedom is never free.  There is always a cost. We who have enjoyed the freedoms for which our founding fathers sacrificed much need to be prepared to pay the cost to maintain those freedoms. We must be willing to exercise our freedom of religion and speech in our ‘politically correct’ culture that seeks to silence us who represent the Voice of God that calls people to turn away from sexual immorality, the killing of the unborn, violence, corruption and other evils that have become normative in today’s America, and to turn to God Who alone is the Source of all true freedom.

As much as I am grateful—and I truly am-- for the sacrifices of our founding fathers who were willing to give up their property, their safety and security, and even their lives to establish our nation, I am far more grateful to Jesus Who was willing to lay down His life to secure the greatest treasure I will ever have--freedom from the power and penalty of sin. And that was the costliest purchase ever made. My freedom—and yours—could only be bought with the price of Jesus’ blood. Our Heavenly Father had to be willing to sacrifice the life of His blameless, Beloved Son Jesus in order to redeem my life and yours. If you ever wonder how valuable you are, remember the great price that God was willing to pay for you and your freedom! You are treasured by Him! He was willing to exchange a perfect life for your sinful one in order that you could be set free from your sin.

So as you celebrate the our nation’s independence this year, I hope you will thank God for our founding fathers who valued liberty more than security so that you can have the liberties you enjoy in our country today.  I especially hope you will take the time to thank Jesus for being willing to give up all of the glories of heaven to come to earth to give His life in exchange for yours, so that you can be free from the power of sin in your life and able to spend eternity in paradise with God. Let us walk and rejoice in the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us! And let us use our freedom of speech to boldly and lovingly share with others in our nation that true and everlasting freedom can be their’s too— if they will put their trust in Jesus!

Please join with me in praying that our nation will once again seek after God and His counsel, return to Him, and in every way receive Him as Lord, knowing that God is Sovereign over all nations, the Source of a nation’s strength and blessings, and alone worthy of all honor, glory and praise!

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:10-22 ESV

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Thanks, Dad--and Mom--for all that you did NOT do for me!

When my precious—as well as precocious— grandson was only two years old he would delight us all at prayer time by exclaiming, ‘Thank you, God, for opportunities!” As I was reflecting upon Father’s Day, I thought of all of the opportunities and blessings I have had in life because of the excellent parenting I received from my now 94 year old father and 92 year old mother.  My parents gave me many things—far too many to enumerate, but first and foremost, the gift of being raised with the knowledge of the truth of God, hearing HIs Word, and learning about His unconditional love for me, as well as their own love for me. They modeled integrity and a strong work ethic as my dad worked honestly, diligently and faithfully to provide me and my siblings with a home, food, clothing, and all of the other ‘basics’ of life, plus extras like summer vacations. In addition, they provided us the privilege of attending a wonderful Christian day school where I had the joy of being taught by wonderful teachers and interacting with great friends, one of whom is still my dearest ‘bosom friend’(as Anne of Green Gables would say). They also paid for me to go to college where I obtained an excellent education and also met my husband, who has been my greatest earthly gift, and together we have raised a family that blesses me beyond words.

I recognize that I’ve been granted many opportunities and blessings because of what my parents did for me. However, the Lord recently brought to my mind the many opportunities and blessings my parents gave to me because of the many things they did NOT do for me! I readily admit that as a child, and even into my early adult years, I don’t remember ever being grateful for the things my parents didn’t do for me. Now I can see the blessings they gave to me by not doing things for me, and most of those things would fall under the category of ‘discipline’—because they were ‘discipling’ me to follow in the path they had taken and they knew would be best for me, because it lined up with God’s Word. What they did for me makes me think of the verse below from Hebrews 12:11:

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I wonder, have you ever thought of the blessings you have because of what was NOT given to you?  Perhaps you’ll identify with several or all that I list below. Or, perhaps you need to think about what blessings you may be denying your children because you are acquiescing to their demands or doing things for them instead of requiring or allowing them to do things for themselves? In our culture where so many parents are focusing their lives upon meeting their child’s every whim, wish and command— which has resulted in self-indulged, self-centered, entertainment-saturated, lazy, ‘helpless' children who are experiencing record levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide—I am so very grateful that my parents made it clear that although I was loved by God and loved by them, the world— as well as their lives— didn’t revolve around pleasing me, but rather my life was to revolve around pleasing God, and pleasing those whom He in His wisdom had placed in authority over me.

Although I know this is not an exhaustive list, I want to thank you, Dad and Mom, for the following things you did NOT do for me:

Thank youfor not giving into my temper tantrums when I was  a young child. You taught me to submit to authority, that you knew better than I what was best for me, and that life isn’t about me having things ‘my way’. Exodus 20:12; Matthew 19:19; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:13-25; 5:5; Isaiah 43:7; Hebrews 13:17

Thank youfor not giving into my pleas that I shouldn’t have to do chores that I was fully capable of doing, even when I was in elementary school— like making my bed, cleaning the bathroom, setting and clearing the table, washing and drying the dishes, dusting and vacuuming. You taught me that I was a necessary member of the family who had an important role to play in helping our household to run efficiently and effectively. It also taught me that we must be entrusted with responsibilities if we are ever to become a ‘responsible person’. Interestingly, while writing this blog, an article from Town and Country Magazine popped up on my Facebook newsfeed that said that research proves that kids who do chores are more successful in life than those who aren’t assigned chores; the research just proves what is revealed in God’s Word!. Thanks,Mom and Dad, for insisting that I do chores because by doing so you helped me to become a more successful adult! Genesis 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Proverbs 12:24; 13:4; 14:23;1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Thank youfor not allowing me to ‘get away with’ a subpar job on the chores that I was assigned to do. By teaching me that ‘whatever is worth doing is worth doing well’ I learned to do my best at whatever task I was assigned, whether at home, in the workplace, or in the community. Colossians 3:23-24;1 Corinthians 10:31

Thank youfor not speaking ‘for me’ when adults asked me questions. You taught me that I ‘had a voice of my own’ and that you trusted my ability to speak for myself. I learned to respect but didn’t feel intimidated by ‘my elders’ and I developed the confidence to engage in conversations with others. 1 Timothy 4:12

Thank youfor never saying things to me that would lead me to think that I was stupid or incapable of completing a task. You taught me that I had unique gifts that you encouraged me to use for God’s glory, with the assurance that whatever God led me to do, I could do through Him. Proverbs 15:1,4; Ephesians 4:2; Romans 12:6; Philippians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3;13;10:24;

Thank youfor not tolerating me saying that ‘I was bored’; for not allowing me to sit in front of a television all day; for not allowing me to talk on the phone to my friends without time limits and parental oversight. You taught me to be resourceful and productive. I learned that my life was not about fulfilling  my selfish desires, but rather to be lived for a higher, greater purpose. Isaiah 43:7; Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 9:6

Thank youfor not allowing me to mope around, grumble or complain. You taught me that ‘attitude is everything’ and that when I started to feel sorry for myself that I should focus my thoughts upon all of my blessings rather than upon what I didn’t have that I thought I ‘deserved’. Habakkuk 3:18; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Thank youfor not doing my daily homework or long-term projects, or ever ‘bailing me out’ of a situation when I procrastinated on an assignment. You taught me that I was capable of learning new things and able to do work on my own. I also learned that no one else was going to get the credit—or blame—for what was my responsibility to do. You enabled me to become resourceful and to develop skills I might not otherwise have developed—like time management and goal setting.And, by not doing for me what I could do, I gained a healthy self-confidence and experienced the satisfaction and joy of accomplishing tasks, something I relish today. 1 Timothy 5:8; Galatians 6: 5-15

Thank youfor not being laissez faire or afraid to discipline me when I deserved it. You taught me that true love means meting out discipline to show that there are consequences for the choices we make. I learned the importance of obeying your word, and more importantly, the importance of obeying the Word of God. Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; John 14:15; 2 John 1:6 

Thank you…for not giving into my pleas as a teenager to go to movies, hang out with people, and attend events that you deemed inappropriate. You taught me that life isn’t all about me and my getting my ‘wants’ met and that I must submit to God and those whom He placed in authority over me. You also taught me that the ideas we allow into our minds and the people with whom we associate can be either positive or detrimental to our character, and character counts. Proverbs 9:6; 13:20; 23:7;1 Corinthians 15:33

Thank you…for not buying me the toys, stuffed animals, or other fleeting pleasures I begged you to get for me as I was growing up. And thank you for not buying me a car—which a lot of my peers got— when I turned 16 or when I went off to college. You taught me to be a good steward of the money God entrusts us with; the importance of living within our means; that we should not make purchases in order ‘to keep up with the ‘Jones’s’; and that ‘things’—which lose their initial appeal or value over time— will never buy a person happiness. You also taught me that there is a ‘time for everything’; you would occasionally say ‘yes’ to something special that I really wanted, and when you did, it was very meaningful and not something I took for granted. And thanks for the older, used car you gave me my senior year in college, which was when I needed one for my internship and also when I was more mature and better able to handle that responsibility. Psalm 24;1;Exodus 20:17; Ecclesiastes 3:1; Proverbs 22;7; 25:29; Romans 13:8; Philippians 4:11-12; Matthew 25:21

Thank you…for never putting pressure upon me to achieve high grades so that I could get into the ‘right’ school, and for never putting pressure upon me to attend a particular college, or trying to manipulate my admission into a particular school. The Hollywood elite who recently made headlines for trying to buy their children’s admission into various upper echelon universities revealed not only their dishonesty, but also their belief that their children’s value—or perhaps their own— was tied to the institution of higher learning that their child attended. I am so grateful that my parents taught me that my value wasn’t based upon my grade point, my achievements in school, the college I attended or the career I chose, but instead was based upon my being a child of God, created in His image. Psalm 139:14; Matthew 6:26; 10:29-31;

Thank you…for not putting pressure upon me to pursue a particular career choice. You taught me to pursue the passion that the Lord had put on my heart, rather than fulfilling your dream of what I should do or encouraging me to base my career choice upon a salary attached to a particular career.I learned that you trusted me with such an important life choice, that it was up to me to take responsibility for the direction I would take in my life, and that I was capable of listening to God to determine the direction I should take. Psalm 25:8; Isaiah 30:21; Matthew 7:7; Psalm 37:4

Most of allthank you for not making me the center of your life. Thank you for never making me feel that your happiness and joy was dependent upon my performance, my ‘success’ or my happiness. Thank you for demonstrating by your actions as well as your words that I am very important to and greatly loved by you, but that your life was- as it still is— centered upon God. Your modeling of a life focused upon God and living for His glory has led me to make God the center of my life too, which is the reason that I have peace, joy and a fulfilled life. Matthew 22:37; Philippians 4:6-7; Proverbs 3

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all dads. I am especially thankful for the greatest ‘Dad’ of all, our Heavenly Father, who did NOT give us what we deserved— death, hell and damnation— but has given to all of us who believe forgiveness from our sin, power over sin, abundant life here on earth, and the sure promise of life with Him for all eternity! That is indeed something for all of us who are His children to celebrate!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Got Regret? What to Do If You'd Like a 'Do-Over'

Another hour ticked away on the clock as I lay awake tossing and turning, going over and over again in my mind the purchase my husband and I had made earlier that day that was not able to be returned. We were stuck with our choice, like it or not.. I felt tormented by thoughts that we had made a foolish decision, one that we would regret. Had we been led by FOMO—the fear of ‘missing out’— on a good deal?  I knew that our choice was not ‘sinful’ per se, and that most people wouldn’t understand what I was feeling; however, I felt the weight of regret that we hadn’t truly sought the Lord’s counsel before making the decision. I was keenly aware that I always felt peace after making a decision where I knew that we’d been led by the Lord, which was in sharp contrast to the unrest I was feeling for having ‘jumped the gun’ before hearing a clear word from God. I knew the conviction I felt was good because it was a sign of the Holy Spirit at work in my life, and necessary to cause me to recognize where we ‘missed the mark’ so we would go back to God in repentance. However, I was also overwhelmed by a feeling that was far more than conviction; I was battling against Satan—the Accuser of the Brethren—who was working overtime to heap condemnation upon me, drown me in guilt, and create a breach in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.

As I considered the decision we had made—a decision that people make every day without giving a second thought to consulting God, it occurred to me that before becoming a Christian, I too had never bothered to seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom on everyday— or even major— life decisions. Other decisions I had made throughout my life flashed before my mind, and I realized how often I could’ve avoided regret and heartache had I only sought the Lord and His counsel, rather than relying upon my own wisdom! As a committed believer for over 25 years who knows the joy of walking with the Lord and relying upon Him and His counsel, I was grief-stricken that I had fallen prey once again to my presumptuous sin of pride, for it was pride that was at the root of our not consulting the Lord. As I lay there tossing and turning that night, I pictured Jesus dying for every one of my sins, including my sin of doing things ‘my way’ rather than looking to and following Him Who is ‘The Way’. Oh, what a merciful Savior we have whose blood shed on the cross covers our sins of commission, but also our sins of omission— like operating in our own wisdom and understanding rather than seeking the Lord’s wisdom and counsel before making decisions!

So, what about you? Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted? A time when you sorely wished you could have a ‘do-over’? Maybe you bought what you thought was your ‘dream home’, but it turned out to be a money pit instead. Or perhaps you moved from a small town to a big city hoping for ‘great adventure’, but once the newness of the big city wore off you regretted leaving your family and friends. Or maybe you took a job you really didn’t want because you felt desperate for the income, but once on-the-job, you felt stuck there when the job market changed. Or, maybe you bought a used car and it turned out to be a lemon. Or,  perhaps you bought a non-returnable, expensive dress while on vacation but you never lost the weight you’d hoped to so it  remained unworn in your closet. Or, far more importantly, maybe you raised your children based upon the world’s wisdom or in your own understanding rather than according to God’s instructions as found in the Bible, and you now so regret that you have ‘reaped what you have sown’. Whatever the decision you made that you later regretted, you may look back now and think, as I did: What if I had consulted the Lord and not relied upon my own understanding before making that decision? Perhaps you would’ve made the same decision, perhaps not. However, if you’d first consulted the Word of God and obeyed His leading, you would have had the peace of knowing that God, Who is All Knowing and All Wise, had led you to make the decision, and you would have been able to rest in that knowledge and assurance, even if the results were not what you might have desired. His ways are ALWAYS the right and best ways, even when we can’t understand them from our limited perspective!

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So, what should you do once you realize that you relied upon your own wisdom rather than upon God’s and you made a decision you now regret:

1) Turn to God and ask Him to forgive you for not consulting Him, for trusting in your own wisdom rather than seeking and putting your faith in His wisdom. I encourage you to picture yourself going to God as your Heavenly Father and pour your heart out to Him. I know that when I pictured doing that during the night when I was ‘tossing and turning over my decision, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “You know that your earthly father would forgive you for not consulting him, so how much more will your Heavenly Father forgive you?”(Matthew 7:11) Peace flooded my soul as I sensed His lavish grace extended to me!

2) Receive and live in the reality of the forgiveness that the Lord purchased for you on the cross, and do not allow Satan to torment you with guilt for your decision once you’ve acknowledged your sorrow to the Lord. When Satan comes in ‘like a flood’ to heap condemnation upon you, remind him that you are a blood-bought child of God who is fully forgiven, and that NOTHING can separate you from the love of your heavenly Father!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death….

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1-2,38-39 ESV

Also, remind Satan that God is able to make something beautiful even from your poor choices—like using them to remind you of how desperately You need God’s wisdom, and to remind you that God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for your every bad decision even before it was ever made! The purchase that I had regretted making so much that night has now become a daily reminder to me of God’s Father’s heart for me and His unwavering grace in my life!

3) Be prepared and willing to face the consequences of a decision you made based upon your wisdom rather than God’s. Yes, you are forgiven by God and your sin is removed ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12), but that does not necessarily mean that you won’t endure some painful consequences for acting in your own understanding rather than seeking God’s. In fact, the consequences we face can be the very instrument of God’s grace in our life that He uses to humble us and cause us to become more reliant upon His always trustworthy counsel. Make sure to inquire of the Lord and obey His leading as you go through whatever consequences you may have to face for the decision you made. For example, I know a couple who purchased what they thought was the best home in their area for the price they could afford—they leaned on their own understanding— but after the purchase they encountered major issues that could be very costly. Besides pouring their heart out to the Lord and asking for His forgiveness for not seeking His wisdom prior to their purchase, they need to invite God into their current situation, seek His counsel, and rely upon His wisdom as they respond to the consequences of the house choice they made. 

4) Determine in the future to seek the Lord’s counsel before making decisions, and ask God to convict you every time you act as if your life  and your resources are ‘yours’, rather than His. Remind yourself that you have been created by God for His purpose and His glory, bought with the blood of Jesus so ‘your life’  really belongs to Him, and it is only by His power that you ‘live and move and have your being’. (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20;Acts 17:28) Invite God to come into and take over every area of your life so that you are always trusting in Him rather than in yourself and your limited understanding.

5) Praise God that His grace abounds and that He is rich in mercy! Praise Him that every sin, every poor choice you have ever made or will ever make was laid at the cross and covered by the blood of Jesus and you bear your sin no more! And praise Him that He can work ALL things together for your good—even the poor choices you have made based upon your human understanding, and even the poor decisions you may make in the future (Romans 8:28) In fact, our poor decisions showcase our desperate need for God’s wisdom! If we desire to be wise and want what’s best for us, we will learn from our poor choices that we need to fully trust in and rely upon God at all times and for all of our decisions, for He will lead us in paths of righteousness for our good, and for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23:3)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 

It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV

Lord, forgive me for the many times I have failed to consult you before making a decision. Forgive me for my pride that assumes that I don’t need You, or that I know more or better than You, and my rebellion that sometimes wants things ‘my way’ rather than Your way. I acknowledge that You are All Knowing, All Wise, Lavish in Your Love, and that Your ways are always so much higher than mine! I need You, Lord, oh, how I need You, every hour I need You! Help me to trust You at all times and for all things. I praise You for Your unconditional love, and that You are able to make all things beautiful and something that declares Your glory, even the ‘ashes’ of my poor choices!  Amen.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Can I Really Trust God...with My Children?!

This week I was on the phone visiting with someone I love dearly who’s battled cancer for the past 4 years and will be undergoing surgery next week to remove several tumors. We were discussing some of her concerns regarding the surgery and what would happen if something went wrong during the surgery or if it isn’t ultimately successful. My friend said to me,  “I do trust God. My issue is just with my kids.” She has two unmarried children in their 20’s; understandably, she desires to live to see them get married and have children of their own. She also would like to be around so she can make sure that their lives will turn out all right. 

 I’ve known her for years and we always speak frankly to one another, so I said, “The kids really aren’t the issue. The root of your concern is: “Can you really trust God?”  

 Whenever we say, “I trust God, but…” we reveal that we really do not trust God. Not totally. Not in the way that He’s called us to trust Him. And not in the way that will enable us to experience total peace—regardless of the circumstances that we face. The ‘but’ shows that we believe one or more lies that stand in the way of our seeing God for Who He is—totally, completely, at all times and in all situations, trustworthy

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 Our children are a priceless, precious gift from the Lord! However, they also can be ‘idols’ in our lives and the greatest stumbling block to our fully  putting our trust in God and His Word. Anything we love more than God is an idol in our lives, and we’ve been commanded to love and put our trust in Him above anyone or anything else, including the love we have for our children. We must dispel lies about our children and our relationship to them, and embrace the truth, if we’re going to ‘let them go’ and be able to experience the freedom and peace God longs for us to have. It is only in knowing and believing the truth that you will be set free from your fear, worry and anxiety regarding your children! (John 8:32)

  •  Lie 1: That our children are ‘ours’. Truth: Our children are first and foremost God’s-- Who created them for His ‘pleasure and glory’ (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 43:1,7; Colossians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11).  God has entrusted us with raising our children so that they will come to know, honor, love, and obey Him—which is for their ultimate good--and so that He will delight in them and be glorified through them. Yes, God wants us to take delight in our children too, but it is important that we remember that ‘our children’ are really ‘His children’.

  •  Lie 2: That we know what is best for our children. Truth: God is the wisest Person in the world and He always knows what is best, including everything that pertains to our children. His knowledge and His ways are infinitely higher than ours. (Job 12:13; Romans 11:33; Isaiah 55:8-9) He is also Love, and everything that He does is based upon His love for His creation. So not only does He know what is best, unlike us, God never has a selfish agenda. He always and only wants what is truly in the very best interest for ‘His’ and ‘our’ children. We can trust God Who knows all, and Who knows them best and loves them most! This syllogism always brings me joy: God is Love (1 John 4:8), and Love never fails. (1st Corinthians 13: 8) God= Love; Love never fails…therefore, God CANNOT fail. He can’t fail you, and He can’t fail your children! 

  •  Lie 3: That we can control our children’s lives and that we can keep them safe from all harm. Truth: God is Sovereign over all things, and He alone is all- powerful and able to keep us as well as our children safe from evil (Psalm 41:12; 91; 121:7; Proverbs 12:21; 18:10). Like me, you’ve probably heard countless stories of God’s divine intervention in situations-- like the person who miraculously survives a tragic car accident, escapes a home fire, or misses getting onboard an airplane that crashes. It’s easy to believe that God is Sovereign in those situations, as well as in the ordinary day-to-day issues of our lives.

    But what about when ‘bad things’ happen to people and/or their children? Have you wondered, where was God then? Have you questioned whether you can trust your children to a God Who allows ‘bad things’ to happen? I can assure you that He’s also Sovereign in those situations, situations you and I likely wouldn’t have chosen or allowed! Have you ever noticed that some of the ‘bad things’ in your own life were the very means God used to draw you—or someone else-- closer to Him? God is able to work all things together for good and for His glory for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)! He longs for you to believe in your heart—not just in your head— that even what you consider to be ‘harmful’ , He is more than able to use for good! Consider Jesus. He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). And it was His very suffering and death that made possible abundant and eternal life for all Who put their trust in Him! God is able to make beauty from ashes! Even that which we most dread; our death, and especially the death of our child! A very close childhood friend of mine had her life ‘cut short’ in the opinion of many when she died of cancer. However, her prayers that her father would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus were answered through her ‘untimely death’. There is nothing that God cannot use for His divine purposes, and He always has an eternal perspective, something we all too often lose sight of. When we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus and upon eternity, we will be able to trust God to use even death for good and the glory of His Name! (2 Corinthians 4:18; Colossians 3:1; Romans 6:5) You can rest assured that you and your child will not live one day more or less than has been foreordained for him or her (Job 14:5;Psalm 139:16).

    You can’t control many things that you might like to regarding your children. However, there is something that is essential that you do if you want to protect your children from ultimate harm and evil and help ensure that they live a truly abundant life: Choose to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and model that kind of love for and trust in God before your children. Obey Him even when it’s tempting not to do so, teach your children that God gave us His commands to protect us and to ensure freedom from the bondage of sin, and instill in them a love for His Word and the assurance they can trust His every promise! Walk in humility and reality by letting them know that you may fail them, you cannot always protect them, and as much as you love them, that Jesus is the only One Who ‘will never leave or forsake them’, is always and only ‘Faithful and True’, and loves them with an unfailing, everlasting love! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Revelation 19:11; Psalm 107:8;Psalm 103:17)

Knowing-- and most of all believing--the truth about God and His Sovereign and Loving character—will lead you to the revelation that You can trust God with what matters most to you—whether it is the children that He’s entrusted to you, or anything else. Believing that truth with your heart, soul, and mind is the key to your experiencing the peace, joy, and true freedom God longs for you to have, regardless of the circumstances in your life.  That is your inheritance as the dearly beloved child of your all powerful, always loving, all wise, Heavenly Father, and the legacy He longs for you to pass on to the children He’s entrusted you to raise for His glory! May you find your rest and joy in fully trusting Him Who alone is fully trustworthy!

 Assignment: Write down on a list everything in your child’s life that causes you to be fearful, worried or anxious. Then scratch out everything you can’t control. Set goals around the things that you can control/manage. (Jamie and I will be happy to help you learn how to set measurable, achievable goals for those things you can control/manage—such as the time your children go to bed or come home from curfew, having a Bible study time with your kids, their screen time, etc. If you are interested, reach out to us at https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact.)

 Lord, help me to let go of the fallacy that I love my children more than You do; that I know what is better for them than You do; that I can control their lives or provide for them better than You can. Increase my faith in Your Wisdom, Goodness and Your Power so that I might truly ‘let go’ of my children—or of whatever else might be standing in the way of my fully trusting in You. I love You, Lord, and I long to please You by surrendering my will and desires completely to Your perfect will; may my will be consumed by Yours! I profess that I CAN and WILL trust the Man Who died for me with my greatest treasure…my life, and the lives of my children and other loved ones!  

Written by Julie

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Happy Thanksgiving! Plus, Two Thanksgiving Traditions

I love everything about Thanksgiving! I love going to church in the morning, the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven all day, eating it along with the stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, vegetables, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream! Most of all, I love gathering around the dinner table with my family to give thanks to God for His immeasurable blessings. After we’ve enjoyed our Thanksgiving feast, we have a family tradition of going around the table from the youngest member to the oldest, and each person shares three things for which they are thankful. We encourage everyone to do their best to come up with something different to thank Him for than what was stated by the person-- or people--who preceded them. You may wish to do this or something similar to this for your family.

Another idea is a twist on that one. It is this: To go around the table and focus upon different aspects of God’s character for which you are thankful. This would be acknowledging God and being thankful to Him for Who He is, not just thanking Him for the gifts He has given to you. A great way to do that might be to go down the alphabet and start by sharing an attribute of God that starts with A, then B, then C, and all of the way down through the whole alphabet. The following is just a sample list of His attributes that you could share.  I encourage you to be creative and come up with as many other attributes on your own as you can. Or, you may just wish to incorporate all or a portion of the list below in your Thanksgiving prayer to God. The main goal is to make sure that we as His children keep our focus upon God this Thanksgiving, the One from whom ‘all blessings flow’!

Thanksgiving Meal

 

A= Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End)

B= Beautiful beyond description

C= Compassionate

D= Deliverer

E= Everlasting 

F= Faithful

G= Gracious

H= Holy

I= Infinite

J=Just

K=‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’

L=Love (Loving)

M=Merciful

N= Name above all Names

O= Omnipotent, omniscient

P=Prince of Peace

Q=Quiets our soul

R=Redeemer

S=Sovereign

T=Truth

U=Unchanging

V=Victorious

W=Wise (Wisdom)

X= He “x’s” out—or crosses out all of my sin

Y=Yahweh (‘I Am”)

We would love to hear from you whether you use this way of thanking God to celebrate this Thanksgiving (or even during your Christmas celebration), as well as to hear about any other Thanksgiving or Christmas traditions you have that you’d like to share.

We are incredibly thankful for the gift of you in our lives, and we thank you for supporting our ministry with your prayers and financial support. May your Thanksgiving be extra blessed as you keep your eyes, mind, and heart fixed upon God, the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)—Who gave us the greatest gift of all—His beloved son Jesus!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and love in Him Who makes us one,

 Julie and Jamie

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The Key to a Fear-Free Life: Have You Received It?

‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ is the title of a very popular song written by Burt Bacharach in 1965 and it’s certainly as true today as when it was released during the height of the Vietnam War.

 What the world—and you and I-- need more than anything else-- is indeed love! We are all desperate for love, and the One Who is love—in fact, perfect love—Jesus!

 Interestingly, even though the need is great, there is no lack of supply of the love that we all need. It is available to all, and without measure! However, first we need to hearof Jesus’ love for us, and secondly, we need to believe that He does indeed love us! Many people who hear of Jesus’ love for them have a hard time accepting the reality of His love for them because they are used to human love that is unlike God’s sacrificial, completely unselfish love. It can be hard to fathom how a holy God could possibly love us since we know in our hearts that we are sinners who are so undeserving of His love. Yet, it is only through faith in God and a willingness to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord that we are connected to God, the Source of Perfect Love, Who is able to cast out all fear. (1 John 4:8;18)

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It is one thing to know in our head that ”Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”, and something altogether different to know in our hearts that He really loves me. I know that my life was radically changed when someone came up to me—someone I didn’t even know well-- and told me that he felt led by God to share with me that God loved me. I had heard about God’s love all of my growing up years, and when I was a young child before committing what I considered to be any ‘big’ sins, it was easy enough to believe that He loved me. Later—when I knew I’d done things that violated his commands-- I started doubting His love for me, and distancing myself from Him. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties when that young man came up to me and spoke the words, “Jesus told me to tell you that He loves you”, that the revelation of God’s love for me broke through—and forever changed my life! I realizedthat He didn’t just die for the world, but that He chose to die for me; that despite my sinHe would have given His life on the cross even if I’d been the only person. It was in recognizing both my unworthiness of His love, while simultaneously believing the reality of His love that caused me to grasp the truth that I can trust the ‘Man Who died for me’ with everything in my life! 

God proves His love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans5:8 Berean Study Bible

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 ESV

The ‘ALL things’ that faith in His unfailing love has given to me, and is the gift to all who receive His love, includes freedom from fear, worry and anxiety!

When you truly trust God’s love for you, you will: 

· Be able to totally trust in His faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23

· Be set free from the fear of being alone, forsaken, or abandoned (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) 

· Be able to face ‘fearful’ situations and yet be unafraid. John 14:27; John 16:33: Romans 8:28,31-38; 1 Corinthians 10:13

· Be released from the ‘fear of man’ as you are more concerned with pleasing God. Proverbs 29: 25; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 13:6

· Be free from worry regarding the provision for your needs. Psalm 23:1; 2 Corinthians 9:8;Philippians 4:16

· Be set free from the fear that your particular situation is too big for God to handle. Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26

· Be set free from the greatest fear of all: judgment from God, death, and hell (John 5:24; Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:55)

How about you? Have you ever had the revelation of God’s extravagant love for you? Has the reality of His love moved from your head to your heart, and therefore impacted how you live?  If so, have you shared the truth that He IS LOVE (1Jhn 4:8) with anyone else, so that they too might have their greatest need—the need for God’s Perfect Love-- met? 

Whoever confesses and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him.  In this [union and fellowship with Him], love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him]; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [dread does not exist].But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear1 John 4:15-18 AMP

If you have yet to make the vital transaction between your head knowledge of God’s love to your heart, I encourage you to seek after God with your whole heart and ask Him to reveal the height, depth, width, and length of His love for you to you. (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7). I also encourage you…listen to the Lord, and when He nudges you to go and tell someone that Jesus loves them, step out in faith and do so in love and in obedience to Him! You could be the person God uses to give them the key that will open the door for them to experience a fear free, joyous, abundant life in Christ! 

Lord, give me an understanding, assurance, and deeper revelation of your love. Give me the power to understand how wide, long, high, and deep your love is for me so that I will know in my heart your extravagant, unending, unfailing love, and that I may be filled up with all the fullness of God, which is love. (Based upon Ephesians 3:14-19) 

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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What Not to Do--and to Do--If You Have Unsaved Loved Ones

Recently I went on a trip to see some family members who I love dearly although I rarely get to see them.  Regrettably, they do not have a relationship with the Lord. There are several things the Lord reinforced to me during this visit that I think may be valuable for all of us who have unsaved loved ones and want to know how to interact with them.

First, I believe we must recognize that all of mankind was created to worship. If your loved one is not worshipping the one true God, you can be assured that they do have a ‘god’—or ‘gods’ in their life.  It may be their work, entertainment, their spouse or ‘significant other’, their kids, their hobby, alcohol, drugs, or something else in which his or her identity and life is ‘wrapped up’.  And you can also be assured that their ‘god/s’ will never truly satisfy them or bring them the abundant life they were created to enjoy through fellowship with God. Their god will ultimately disappoint them, and lead to misery for them and pain for those who love them. The heart in rebellion against God is a self-centered, self-absorbed heart; everything is filtered through how it impacts ‘me’, what ‘I want’ and what ‘I value’. I confess that I know that not only from witnessing that in the lives of others, but also from personal experience when I lived apart from God. We need to be instruments of grace who share with our unsaved loved ones the truth that the only way to experience a joy-filled life of contentment and peace is to ‘die to ourselves’ and to follow God’s commands to love Him first, and others second. (Luke 9:23; Matthew 22:37-40)

 Secondly, we must remember that we are all in a spiritual battle. Satan—sometimes referred to as the devil-- is the Enemy of our Souls and the ‘Father of Lies’ who deceives us into thinking that living to please ourselves by investing our time, energy and resources on our other ‘god/s’ will satisfy the desires of our soul, which they cannot (Ephesians 6:11-12; John 8:44). Satan’s goal is always to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ what God loves, and what He loves most is mankind with whom He longs to have an intimate and loving relationship. Satan seeks to destroy us by keeping us from having that relationship with God, through Jesus, Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). We who know Jesus have been called to be His warriors...warriors who ‘fight’ for the souls of those who have been taken captive by Satan.  If we are not careful we can forget that our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’—and sometimes we want to act out ‘in our flesh’ against our unsaved loved ones --but we must keep in mind that our fight isn’t with them, but against Satan and the forces of darkness. Just like prisoners of war, our unsaved loved ones have been taken captive by Satan to do his will (2nd Timothy 2:26). We can’t expect them to act in accordance with the truth of God’s Word, because they never knew it, or they have been indoctrinated in lies from Satan and blinded from walking in the truth.

Only the Truth—the written Word and Jesus, the Living Word--can set them free from the clutches of Satan and empower them to live the ‘abundant life’—a life of peace, joy, and contentment, and open up to them the gift of eternal life. Our words are important to testify to that truth, but far more important is the life that we live before them.

 So what is our role as it relates to family members and other loved ones who have been ‘taken captive’ by Satan to do his will, and therefore are not living in accordance with the will of God?

Things We Should NOT Do:

 1. Do not buy into their lies or fuel their sinful behavior. Filter what they say and do through the lens of scripture so that you do not contribute to their deception. For example, do not accept their rationalizing or blaming others for the consequences of sinful choices that they make. If you catch them in a lie, do not be afraid to lovingly confront them so that they do not think they can ‘sin and get away with it’ and so they will learn that their sin ‘will find them out’ (Numbers 32:23).

 2.Do not indulge their deception that their ‘god’or ‘gods’ will satisfy them by ‘building up’ their ‘god’, but in love expose it for what it is— a source of temporary pleasure, but nothing that will truly meet the deepest longings of their heart, which is unconditional love and eternal security that only God can provide to them. For example, if sports is their ‘god’, don’t focus all of your conversations on sports which could easily lead them to believe that is your ‘god’ too. If they are an alcoholic, don’t support their addiction by purchasing alcohol for them. Or, if they are a ‘shopaholic’ don’t continually talk about things with them or spend your time together going shopping.

3. Do not enable them or attempt to rescue them when their sin ‘blows up in their face’. It’s not your job to save them, only Jesus can; it’s your job to represent His heart of love for them and to point them to Him. Remember that Jesus asks us to ‘come to Him’, but due to our pride we most often will not come to Him until we are desperate and aware that we have nowhere else to go. The biggest obstacle for people coming to Jesus is admitting they have a need. That is why it is so important that you do not try to rescue them, but allow your unsaved loved one ‘to come to the end of themselves’ so that they will finally turn to Jesus. If you want to help them out of a situation that was caused by their sinful choice/s, always pray first and ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart motive and to lead you in His way. There are times when God may lead you to enforce ‘the law’, and there may be times when He leads you to show mercy, which is why you need to listen carefully to His voice. As painful as it may be to watch your loved one suffer for the consequences of their sin, remember that it is far better for them to endure suffering for a season in this world if it will lead them to turn to Jesus who alone can save them from suffering for all eternity! It is also important that you realize that you can fully entrust them to God’s care; He will be there to pick them up when they look to and cry out to Him!

4. Do not cram scripture ‘down their throat’ as they will likely vomit it out! Sometimes in our zeal for our loved ones to come to the Lord we ‘lecture’ them with scriptures, or in other ways communicate our disapproval of them. What they hear in their minds is that if my family who knows God doesn’t approve of me, then God sure will never accept me either! They often perceive that God is all about rules and regulations that are either impossible to keep, or only there to keep people from having a ‘fun life’. They don’t realize that God wants a relationship with them, not ‘perfect behavior’ from them. We need to demonstrate with our words and actions that we love them unconditionally, so that they will come to believe that if we who know them as ‘sinners’ can love them, then Jesus is more than able to love them too!

What We Should Do:

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1.  Assume your role as ‘an ambassador of Christ’ who has been given the job of representing Jesus and encouraging people to be reconciled to God (2nd Corinthians 5:20). You can’t represent Jesus if you don’t really know Him. So it is important that you make time to read and study the Bible where He reveals His heart, His character, and His ways; to be in fellowship with other believers who will encourage you in your faith; and to maintain communication with God through prayer. Jesus often asked penetrating questions to get people to consider the truth; a great way to represent Him is to learn to ask meaningful questions of our unsaved family members that will cause them to grabble with the big concerns of life, like: what is truth; what is the purpose of life; and where do they think they will go when they die and why? If they espouse to be an atheist or to believe in a religion other than Christianity, lovingly ask them why they believe what they claim to believe so you can earn the right to share with them your beliefs. Another way Jesus interacted with those he wished to reach was by telling them parables, or stories. Share stories of God’s faithfulness in your own life as well as testimonials of His life-changing impact in the lives of others you know; your unsaved loved ones are looking for the Hope you have and they want to have a reason to believe that God is real and all that He says He is in His Word!

2. Let the light of the love of Jesus shine forth from you, so that they will be drawn to the Source of your light and life! (Matthew 5:16) Ask God to give you the faith to daily walk by the power of the Holy Spirit so that you will accurately reflect the truth and love of Christ, and so that you will not satisfy the desires of your flesh that can be a stumbling block to your loved ones coming to know Jesus. Below is the way you should ‘dress yourself’ so you can reflect Jesus to your loved ones:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV


3. Share the ‘good news’ of Jesus’ love for them if you have not already. As already mentioned, that opportunity often comes when your loved one is suffering from the sinful choices they have made. Help them to see their need for Jesus by lovingly helping them to see what their choices have cost them. Humble yourself before your loved one and let him or her know that you realize you’re not perfect or sinless either, that no one is except God. Let them know that Jesus has made the way for ALL who are willing to admit their imperfections and to turn from their sin to find forgiveness and new life through His death and Resurrection. Assure them that there is no sin that is too great that God’s grace, love, and mercy can’t cover it! Make them aware that when Jesus died on the cross, His blood was shed for every sin they would ever commit. You may wish to share with them this comforting verse from Romans 5:8: But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let them know that all God asks them to do is to ‘come to Him’, to believe in Him, and to receive Him as their Savior and Lord, and to repent—or change the direction of their life— through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 6:29; John 1:12) Share the truth with them that only living in obedience to Jesus will ever bring true joy and fulfillment to their lives. Let them know they have a choice. Ask them, “Do you want to continue striving by living in your own strength, or would you like to finally start living abundantly through the redeeming power of Jesus?” You may say, “But what if I share the truth of God’s love for them and their need for repentance, and they reject that truth?” Keep in mind, they are already rejecting that truth by the way they are living, so what do you have to lose?

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 ESV

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4. Focus your thoughts upon God and His desire for your loved one to come to know Him. Consider how different your unsaved loved one’s life would be if he received Jesus as his Savior. I just heard the story of a man who was saved in the military; he came home to his family and shared the truth of the gospel with them. At first, the family rejected turning their lives over to God, but as they saw the difference that Jesus made in the man’s life, they all chose to accept Jesus as their Savior. The man telling me the story said that was 43 years ago, and he was so grateful that his brother who’d been in the military loved him enough to share the truth with him, even though at first he was ‘fighting mad’ at him for doing so. The lives of each member of that family was radically changed because his brother loved them all enough to humble himself and overcome his fear of rejection to tell them the truth that alone could save them. Have you ever considered the blessing you would experience by being used by God to introduce them to Jesus? Be encouraged by these words from James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
5. Realize that if you speak the truth in humility and in love, as Jesus has called us to do, your loved one still may not receive the truth at the time you share it. However, be encouraged! The truth of God’s Word will never return void; it will accomplish what God purposes, and in His perfect timing. (Isaiah 55:11) And God will be well pleased with you for your obedience, regardless of the response of your loved one. Jesus has commanded us to ‘go and tell’; you can trust Him with the results if you are faithful to obey His command! (Matthew 28:19)

6.  There are circumstances under which you may need to set up firm boundaries, and even choose to entirely withdraw from a relationship with an unsaved loved one if they continue in their sin, especially if they are influencing you to abandon your faith in God. If you are sensing that you need to cut ties with a family member, make sure you are being led by the Spirit and not by your flesh. And welcome them back into your life with a forgiving heart and open arms if they ‘come to their senses’ and give their heart to the Lord.

You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot follow me unless you love me more than you love your own life. Luke 14:26 CSB

 7. Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do is to pray faithfully and fervently for your loved one! And, when possible, to pray with them. I have found that they are most open to having me pray with them when they know they have a need. I especially encourage you to pray scripture over them as then you can know that you are praying God’s will. Make sure to pray in faith (James 5:15). Satan wants you to look at the circumstances of your unsaved loved one’s life and to think that there is no hope. You must remember that is a lie—nothing is impossible for Our God! Trust Him to do exceedingly and abundantly above what you could hope or imagine! (Luke 1:37; Ephesians 3:20)

 Lord, I release my loved one to You, knowing that You love them even more than I do or ever could. Fill me with Your heart of love for them, and empower me by the Holy Spirit to be a faithful ‘ambassador’ of Yours who accurately represents You and faithfully walks by the Spirit and not in my flesh. I confess that when I see my unsaved loved one’s lifestyle and poor choices that I often feel overwhelmed and helpless. Holy Spirit, guide me so that I know when to speak, when to remain silent, and when to take action. When you lead me to speak, give me your Words of truth and life to speak to them.When you call me to act, may I do so with all humility and in the spirit of Your love. I ask that you would arrest their hearts and minds and bring them into alignment with Your will! Send forth the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, of righteousness, and of the coming judgment! (John 16:8-9) May they come to know You, the Source of abundant and eternal life! Amen.

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?