The Struggle Between Faith and Fear
By Jenn Milroy

Jesus said, “Come,” so Peter stepped over the side of the boat to do the impossible. He walked on water toward Jesus, but when he saw the strong wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Immediately Jesus reached to grab him saying, “You have little faith, why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14: 29-31)

It is easy to be an “armchair quarterback” as we read this – thinking about all the ways we could have done it better.

When the wind increased and Peter called on Jesus to save him, we wonder how could have Peter feared sinking while he was in the presence of the risen King. Surely he knew that Jesus could stop the wind and calm the waves. Certainly he knew that Jesus could carry him across the water. Peter must have known that his fear demonstrated a tremendous lack of faith.

This scenario plays out for us daily. Some days are an ordinary rhythm with to-do lists, shopping lists, soccer practice, music lessons, and homework. Other days are quite extraordinary – the life changing, earth shattering, or the quit-your-job-and-move-to-Africa variety.

Regardless of your season, Jesus calls you and me to “Come.” He whispers with outstretched arms, “Come to me. Abide in me. Trust me.“

Unfortunately, two thousand years later, many of us continue to respond like Peter. He had faith to take the first few steps, but the wind and waves triggered fear. Likewise, we can be quick to step out in faith responding to Christ’s call, only to allow the fear of failure, the fear of what others will think, or the fear of looking foolish to take our eyes off Jesus.

Once fear grasped Peter, he began to sink. What does sinking look like in your life? Is it distractions, feeling overwhelmed, a calendar that is loaded down with the wrong things, or the disease to please?

Faith and fear are mutually exclusive. Each time fear creeps in; imagine Jesus saying, just as he said to Peter, “Why did you doubt me?” and keep your eyes on Jesus. Just keep moving. Come to Him. Abide in Him. Trust in Him.
The Struggle Between Faith and Fear

Meet Divina Bruss, wife of Pastor Brian Bruss of our 27th Life.Church in Norman, Oklahoma (Opening August 2017)!

Divina grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She began her relationship with Jesus Christ in 2005 soon after a boyfriend had cheated on her multiple times, with multiple women. “I discovered an extensive stash of porn on his computer one day while we were visiting his parents. I was devastated.” Divina recalled.

This man’s father was a Baptist pastor, and took the opportunity to share the gospel with her. “While I didn’t grasp it at the time, I was completely broken and knew I needed something, so I began attending a church they recommended. After attending that church for a couple of months, and finding out more devastating news about my boyfriend, I found myself desperately crying out to God one night. My prayer was simply ‘I can’t do this alone anymore.’ With that, I fell asleep, and when I woke the next morning, I had a hope and peace that was inexplicable. The most amazing thing to me is that I had no idea that hope and peace were things God offered.”

“I didn’t grow up in church, and honestly wasn’t expecting any “transformation.” But I experienced it.”

Divina met her husband, Brian, through Brian’s friend (an Oklahoma gal) in her small group while living in Washington, DC. They soon began long-distance dating (at this time Brian was a worship pastor at Life.Church.)

Brian and Divina have now been married 9 years and have 4 sweet babes: Caleb is 7, Adalyn is 5, Elijah is 4, and Jeremiah is 2.

Divina admires Brian’s ability to engage in a meaningful conversation with someone, regardless of the social setting. She shares, “Brian has so much wisdom to give. It just effortlessly flows out of him.”
Divina enjoys homeschooling her four children. She was the women’s community leader at the New Mexico campus and loves serving on the Host Team. She is very passionate about the need to be surrounded by other women who can encourage, inspire, and challenge us in our faith.

She recently took up running and loves it. Living a healthy lifestyle, both through exercise and healthy diet, is important to her. She love to read – and reads at least a book a week.
Philippians 1:9-10 is one of Divina’s favorite Scripture passages:

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”

She explains, “I love this verse because it starts with reminding us that our mark as children of God is that we love. It also tells us that love overflows, which requires that we be filled first. I also love that it reminds us that we grow in knowledge and understanding (that it is a lifelong process). And why do we want to grow in knowledge and understanding? So that we understand what really matters! We must have an eternal perspective, living our lives for what really matters, and when we do, we will be walking on the path the Lord illuminates for us (living pure and blameless lives).”

Divina leads a LifeGroup of women, many of which, are being introduced to the Bible for the first time. Reflecting back, she said, “It is such a gift to watch them learn Bible stories for the first time. My absolute favorite thing is when I get a phone text from one of them telling me how God used something we just learned about in their life.”

Moving to Rio Rancho, New Mexico to launch Life.Church was far more challenging than she ever imagined. For years she prayed that her family would live a sacrificial life for God. When the opportunity came, she had no doubt that she would choose obedience over comfort. But the truth was, she didn’t fully realize the cost of obedience. It was hard to be alone without her spiritual support system. She faced conflict nearly every week.

She recalls, “During those times I found myself in my closet (the place where I can be alone with God) more often than ever before in my life. As hard as those months were, they were also when I heard the most clearly and most frequently from the Lord. I would cling to what I know about God’s character and promises. I truly believe that God is good, loving, wise, and sovereign. If I look at my circumstances through that lens, focusing on the promise that these are momentary troubles, I can make it one day at a time. You just have to take step after step in the darkness, trusting even when you can’t see, but at some point, you round a corner and there is a pinprick of light. As you continue moving toward that light, step by step (day by day) it gets bigger and brighter, until one day you are immersed in light and the darkness is but a memory.”

Divina’s mentor and Bible teacher, Paula Homsey Vawter, has made the biggest impact on her life. She began attending her Precept Bible study shortly after moving to Oklahoma City in 2008. Over the years, not only did she teach her how to study the Bible and share endless wisdom, but she walked alongside her through some of the hardest seasons of life.

One of the many blessings of Divina calling Life.Church her home is that she has the opportunity to walk alongside so many women who are new in their faith.

She shares, “As someone who came to know the Lord later in life, without a church background, it is always a blessing to be able to relate to others who are experiencing the same uncertainties. Finding myself in a leadership role and answering difficult questions, continually keeps me aware of the need to cling to the Lord and grow in my own knowledge and understanding, living a life worthy of the calling He has given me.”

https://www.facebook.com/divina.bruss
https://www.instagram.com/divina18/meet divina bruss -2 (1)

Living a sold out life will cost you something

by Sheri Yates

sold out life

When the love of God invades your soul and you have an encounter with the one true God, it changes you. You can’t help but be changed. In his presence, you fall to your knees and you just desire more. “God, show me more. God, reveal to me how much you love me. Open the eyes of my heart so I can know you better.”

As God begins to open the eyes of your heart and show you who he is and how he thinks about you, you will know that you are on God’s mind every day regardless of what you are thinking about. You are on his mind.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:5 NASB

The more you come to know the love of the father, the love that won’t end, the love that’s unconditional, the more you begin to want others to know his love.

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:5-7 NLT

God cares for everyone and as His love for others sinks into your soul, it will change you. And it will cost you something. It will cost you time. It will cost you money. You will stop in the stores when you wouldn’t stop before because you are too busy looking at your list.

It will change your behavior. It will change your life. You will pray for people you don’t know. You will be on social media so that you can have a prayer presence. It will cost you your agenda. You may be on the way somewhere and see someone on the side of the road but you can no longer pass by because God says, “Look at them. I love them. Reach out to them. Show them my love today.”

God wants to radically invade people on this earth and bring them into his family. He’s in the adoption business and he is looking for children to adopt. We’re supposed to take care of orphans, and every person who does not know Father God as their Father is an orphan.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27 NASB

Do you live the sold out life? If you are, you will know it because it’s a cost you can feel. But if you don’t, get on your knees. Ask God to show you how much he loves you today, and how much he cares about you. This is the only way for you to truly change how you live. To love others more fully, we must first love God and ourselves in Him.

Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39

We love you and are praying for you!

Brokenhearted

by Cindy Beall

My dad stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 240 pounds. He was a large, imposing man, but in many ways he was the gentlest soul you’d ever meet. And even though I stand close to 5’11”, I was incredibly intimidated by him.

I became well acquainted with grief when I was 18 years old. Within two months of my high school graduation, my dad was given the cancer sentence. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, to be exact. My father’s body was being overrun by a cancer of the white blood cells. My dad’s 8-month battle with cancer was difficult and taxing – for all of us. He seemed so tired, so defeated, so broken. And on March 21, 1990, after many complications, he took his last breath and was ushered into the presence of Jesus.

I was thrown into adulthood with his death. It wasn’t that we were incredibly close, but now I no longer had the option of asking for his advice and opinions as I ventured into my college and adult years. I would miss out on having him at special occasions like my college graduation, my wedding, and the birth of my sons. Oh, he would have loved his grandchildren.

I’ve lived more of my life without an earthly father than I did with one. I have forgotten so many things about him and often try to take myself back to the days when he was still with us. If I concentrate really hard, I can remember the days on the lake with my dad pulling my brothers and me on water skis. I can remember him dancing with my mom in the living room. I can remember him sitting in the stands at all of my sporting events and choir concerts.

Out of that experience, I came to know God in a new way. Since I was 8 years old, He’d been my Savior and my Lord, my comforter and provider, but at that time, He truly became my Father. The scriptures are laced with references of Him being our Heavenly Father. I love that 1 John 3:1 says that He lavished His love on us. But I suppose the verse that has comforted me and has come true for me is Psalm 68:5 NLT, which says, Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

I would have never asked for this experience, to become a partial orphan at the age of 19. But I can tell you now, well over two decades later, that had this not happened, had my dad not gone home to Jesus, I might not have known God as the Father that He is.

Maybe you are feeling overlooked, abandoned or lonely right now. You feel that no one sees you, no one cares and no one will comfort you. Not only does Psalm 68 NLT say God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, it also says that He places the lonely in families and sets the prisoners free.

Friend, God sees you. He has not forgotten you. You have not been overlooked by Him. He is intimately acquainted with your entire being – hopes, fears and dreams. He is the only constant in our lives. He is the only One who will never leave us or forsake us no matter how many lies our feelings try to get us to believe. Stand on the promises of God above all else.

Who has God become to you in your life through your hardships and trials?

We Are Alive

by Cindy Beall

I felt nothing.

I was numb at home. I loved my family because I was still serving them, but my heart was just numb.

I was numb at church. I loved the people we led, but simply went through the motions while I was there.

I was numb to just about everything. And even though I didn’t like where I was, I just couldn’t seem to crawl out of this place of just existing.

Ever been there? That place of just doing the same ol’ routines because you are expected to and you have absolutely no desire to do it. Where you so desperately want to experience life again and nothing, not even winning a free trip to Maui, would make you feel better.

(Well, maybe it would make you feel a little better.)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Eventually, I figured out why I was in this numb state of mind. I stopped guarding my heart. I let so many things into it that were unhealthy, impure, untrue, unlovely and quite frankly, ungodly. And when you allow all sorts of words into your heart that begin with im- or un-, it can’t not be affected. It just is, and mine just was.

I battled through this by doing the exact opposite of what I had been doing. And I do mean battled. Instead of feeding my flesh and succumbing to its every desire, I chose to nourish my spirit instead. The flesh wants what it wants, when it wants, and how much it wants. I knew this and had to take radical action against it. So I did a lot of new things that weren’t really new, but were “new to me” since I hadn’t been faithful in doing them.

I prayed more.

I worshipped more.

I read the Word more.

I listened to podcasts and messages more.

I read books more.

I didn’t focus on the stopping of the things that led my heart toward numbness. I simply focused on doing the things that would heal my very damaged and numb heart. I began to submerge my mind in God’s Word and held on to its truth. I didn’t allow my feelings to dictate my life. I listened to messages from godly men and women as they transplanted some of their courage into me.

And as I did this, as I pressed into the Father, my heart began to come alive. Again.

What’s got your heart? What types of things are you allowing to occupy most of your thoughts? What things do you listen to or watch on a regular basis? You could ask yourself any or all of these questions. But the real question to ask yourself is this: What are you feeding? The flesh or the Spirit?

As daughters of the greatest King of the world, we have all that we need to combat this place of numbness in our lives. We do. He deposited His power into us on the day of our salvation and we have everything we need for a life of godliness. We are overcomers in Christ and we can overcome any deceitful feelings that are wreaking havoc in our lives.
His power is just that amazing.

Oh Faithful One

From Our Sister Around the Globe

Have you ever stopped to think about the women in your life who are always there for you in any situation? When you have a baby, your caring friend organizes weeks of meals for your family. When you’ve had a bad day, you call that person to share your struggles and find comfort in their listening, non-judgmental ear. When you’re feeling lonely, your close friend has a door that is always open to you. Or perhaps there’s something going on in your life that needs prayer, and you immediately text the dependable prayer-warrior in your life.

I just love those Sisters and relationships in my life that offer me a constant and consistent outstretched hand. It’s the strength that carries me through grief and difficult situations. It’s the shoulder I cry on, the ear that listens, and the voice that speaks life. Oh, how I praise God for these wonderful women in my life! But thinking of them made me wonder, Am I a faithful, consistent and constant friend like the ones I so dearly cherish and love in my life? This thought moved me to study a fruit of the Spirit: the wonderful fruit of faithfulness.

In Matthew 7:20 NLT it says, Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. In this verse, Christ is calling us to live by the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.

When I think of faithfulness, it draws me to the beauty and perfect faithfulness of Christ. His faithfulness never lets us down; it helps us through any situation, and in every moment He is a reliable, steady, and firm foundation to see us through the trials. He is loyal and trustworthy and steadfast, and when my life falls apart or things go wrong, I run to Him, my sure foundation. Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT says, The faithful love of the Lord never ends; His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “the Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him!”

Dear Sister, isn’t it wonderful that He is always there and never fails us?

Just as Christ came to Earth and set the example for us of faithfulness, He calls us as His followers to draw closer to him, to imitate His ways, and to be a representation of His great faithfulness in our lives. In doing so, we will bear this spiritual fruit which can then be picked and shared with those around us, bringing all the glory to Him.

Lack of faithfulness can creep into our lives, and often we don’t even realize it. Just as the enemy comes to rob, kill, and destroy, I believe he also tries to blind us from seeing the way Christ would like us to live. A lack of faithfulness in our lives can reveal itself as fickle, wishy-washy, unreliable or impulsive acts. You may hear yourself echo the phrases, “I’m too tired,” or “Someone else can do it,” “I can’t right now,” or “I’ll help later.” These words are like red flags in our lives and we must remind ourselves of Colossians 3:2 NIV which says Set your minds on the things above and not on earthly things, or Philippians 4:13 NLT, which encourages us that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Remember this dear friends:

As a faithful woman of God,

We put Christ first in all we do.

We are reliable.

We are dependable.

We are confident in the giftings God has given us, and we will use them well.

Our ‘yes’ is our ‘yes,’ and our ‘no’ is our ‘no.’

We keep our word.

We are on time. (This one is a hard one for some, including me!)

We keep commitments and don’t often cancel.

We are consistent and steady, and people know what they are going to get.

We finish strong!

So why is it so important for us to consistently have a Spirit of faithfulness? Just as Christ is the faithful rock we stand upon, we too can be like Him as a faithful and dependable servant to this hurting world. We have all needed our faithful friends in the past, and we thank God for them. Just as they have been obedient to help us in our times of need, it is also our responsibility to do the same, because of our love for Christ and for others.

I encourage you to listen to this beautiful song by Bethel, which brings tears to my eyes as I rejoice in the faithfulness of our God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tw8tYFh1JY&sns=em

Have a wonderful day sweet and faithful Sisters!

Love ya!

Bonnie Paludan, 

Aussie Sister

Healing From Rape

Sisters,

We are blessed to hear today from Lori Williams, wife of our Life.Church Shawnee Campus Pastor Trevor Williams. I pray her story of unimaginable pain and healing will encourage you during the trials you may be going through. –  Amy

Have you ever been paralyzed with fear?

Do you blame yourself for bad things that happened to you or someone else?

Is the pain so deep that you want to give up on everything?

Do you ever feel like you  aren’t good enough?

Have you  felt alone?

Have you lost trust in everyone?

Do you sometimes feel unloved?

Imagine being raped at 19 years old. That is what happened to me… I have scars from that terrible night that remind me of it every day. After the rape, I was the girl smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.

Imagine trying to fight someone twice your size. Feeling completely helpless because you’re being held down.  And no matter how hard you struggle you.  cannot.  win.

You try to forget the smell of his hands when he covers your mouth and throat so you don’t scream.  You close your eyes so you don’t have to look and pretend not to feel.  You pray it would just all stop. 

This is a favorite quote of mine:

“To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust him in the dark—that is faith.” –C.H. Spurgeon

This is the deal, friends.  My recovery was long, ugly, and painful.  I was broken in every area of my life. I felt completely lost and helpless. Everything I did was in an attempt to forget what had happened to me, forcing feelings deep down. Trust was lost in every person I knew. I pushed friends and family away. Fear was unbearable at times. I was afraid I would end up alone. Shame covered me.  I didn’t understand that God would still love me no matter what my past looked like.

I allowed this event to silently choke years out of my life .  I could not break the chains of bondage, and life spun out of control.  I felt as though I had been  left alone to deal with the mental, physical, and emotional mess that was left behind.   

We all have something hidden away, don’t we…some mess that may haunt us?

It may not be a sexual assault. It could be an addiction. Alcoholism. Drugs. Gambling. Porn. Maybe you’ve become a slave to money or food,  have a history of abuse, divorce, or unhealthy relationships. Or maybe you’ve had to suffer through the death of a child. 

I know I can raise my hand to many of those things. 

Pain, pain and more pain…We wish it would just go away. 

Let me share something with you. That night was 26 years ago… and I have found freedom, healing, peace, and joy in my life despite those awful circumstances!  Please know that you can also have all of those things and more. 

Dear friends, I speak from my heart and  a personal relationship with Christ. The photo above is mine. 

The verse below is a constant, beautiful reminder of how much our God truly loves us. How He will never forsake us. That He is our ultimate protector.  

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalms 91:4 NLT

May I share some other truths God says about you?

  • YOU are NOT defined by your past. 

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT

  • YOUR pain has a PURPOSE. 

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. Romans 8:28 NCRV

  • Fear is a LIAR. There is no fear in LOVE. 

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears. 1 John 4:18 NCV

  • You will have FREEDOM through  Christ. 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV

  • You will be HEALED. 

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalms 147:3 NCV

  • You are NOT alone. 

Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the LORD your God will be with you everywhere you go. Joshua 1:9 NCV

  • You will know PEACE in your heart. 

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NLT

  • You will experience JOY. 

I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. John 15:11 NCV

Let me also share with you a few things that I work on daily to keep myself in check.

Think about the picture. 

  • You must forgive yourself of the guilt and shame. 

Go to God and pray.  Never let your praying knees get lazy. That is a glorious picture. 

  • You choose the way you react or  don’t react towards others. 

Don’t let the words or actions of others control your thoughts and feelings. That is an extraordinary picture. 

  • Ask God to help you forgive others that harmed you. 

It’s the way to freedom and to break those chains of bondage. That is an unimaginable picture. 

  • Open your Bible.  

God yearns for you to know Him. God’s word will set you free. 

That is an abundant picture. 

  • Serve others.

Get into a Life Group, a study group, volunteer, or serve at your church. That is a compassionate picture.

My prayer is for you to trust that God loves you no matter what your past or present looks like.  

Lord, we call out to you for your guidance and understanding in our lives. We thank you for your goodness to know the joy and peace you bring to our lives. You are the healer of all healers and we have faith in all that you do. Only through you, God,are we courageous and strong. There is no room for fear. We cling to you, our mighty God. With your unveiling love our lives will be forever changed. Amen. 

Love you my dear Sisters,
Lori Williams