I’m Headed Your Way – Finding Peace

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This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder gave us some valuable advice on how to handle someone who creates anxiety and tension within us. He suggested that, as an alternative to backing away from this person, you should take a step toward them. After all, backing away will just create more tension, anxiety, and difficulties in the relationship.

So, what would this look like if someone says or does something hurtful to you? Instead of talking behind the person’s back, meet them in private, and in a loving way, ask if the perceived hurtful event was intended as such. Another simple way of moving toward someone you’re struggling with is to pray for them… every day. If you cannot do it on your own, ask someone to help keep you accountable. As you continue to pray, trust that God’s love—agape love—will show up.

Matthew 18:15
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

Ben continued the conversation on moving toward those with whom we are struggling by reminding us to be aware of those who are moving back towards us and those who are not. It is possible to be so concerned about helping or fixing someone, like your kids, your spouse, or your co-workers, that you do the opposite of what you plan. The closer you move toward them, the farther they move away. Recognize who is moving toward you, and invest in those relationships. If you see someone moving away, stop chasing them. You may be pushing them away! Pay attention to how you are relating to them and what you want out of the relationship. Take a step toward peace relationally.

This brings us to our bottom line: Pay attention to HOW as much as WHAT.

Ephesians 4:2-3
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

This passage is an excellent example of how perfect love shows up. Notice that this verse starts with the word always. This means that no matter what is going on, always be humble, gentle, patient, and kind. As Ben said, put your own oxygen mask on first. In other words, get yourself in check before you try to solve someone else’s issue. You will be ineffective at helping someone if you are full of anxiety. Take a step toward God first.

Questions:
When you struggle with someone, how do you handle it? Do you distance yourself from them, or do you move closer to them?

Are you mindful of those who are moving toward you and those who are not? Of those who are not, are you pushing them away?

How is love inviting you to show up today?

Next Steps:
Take an inventory of your relationships that you know have anxiety and tension. Are you showing others love as God has loved you? If you are not, take time to verify that you are paying attention to how you interact with them as much as what you interact about. Make sure you are showing up and interacting in a loving way, so as not to create anxiety in them.

Prayer:
Dear Father in Heaven, grant me wisdom to see where I need to remain in you. Show me the ways that I can take a step toward someone in patience, gentleness, and kindness. Keep me mindful of who I am and how I can be helpful to others. Help me to be aware of how I show up in people’s lives. In your Son’s name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Who Gets the Last Word? – Finding Peace

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During his third installment of Finding Peace, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder discussed that a lack of peace is a lack of love. He told us that love is the solution to the anxiety we experience, and we need to pay attention to how we love the people in our lives as we interact with them.

One way we can show love to others in our interactions is by giving them the gift of the last word. It is a gift because it lets others know their opinions and emotions matter. It focuses the attention on them instead of the issue and what you think about it. I know that I can insert myself too much when I am having a conversation, and it hurts people when they aren’t given an opportunity to be heard. I don’t want to convey the message that I know more than everyone else.

Growing up, when my brother and I used to bicker about silly things, I always thought I had to have the last word. I am the oldest, so why wouldn’t I know more than him, right? This sense of pride created anxiety and stress in our relationship. The point is, my lack of consideration only made us both mad and upset. What was seemingly a series of small conflicts turned into a big issue over time.

Proverbs 13:3
Those who control their tongue will have a long life, opening your mouth can ruin everything.

If only I’d known this verse while growing up — as a reminder that I could (and should) control my tongue. If I would have given him the last word, it would have shown him that I cared about his perspective. It would have shown that I was willing to consider his feelings.  By not controlling my tongue, I caused a strain on our relationship. Fortunately, now that my brother and I are older, we understand each other better and have repaired our relationship. But I could have saved us some struggle by giving him the gift of the last word.

It takes some humility to remain quiet and listen. But ultimately, giving the gift of the last word tells the people in your life that you love and care for them. And that will bring peace to your relationships, even in the midst of your anxiety.

Questions:
When was a time that you did not consider the gift of the last word? How did it show carelessness towards others?

What does Proverbs 3:13 mean to you?

What can you do to control your tongue in order to give someone else the last word?

Next Steps:          
During your next interaction, be quick to listen and slow to speak. Instead of focusing on what you think, focus your energy on listening.

Ask intentional questions to increase your understanding of the situation.

Prayer:
Dear God, Proverbs 3:13 mentions controlling the tongue. The Bible talks a lot about this, but knowing that my tongue can bring ruin if I don’t give the last word reminds me of what matters. I pray that you would show me any pride that pushes me to have the last word. I want to have peace with my relationships. Please show me the power the last word has to communicate love, and that by loving them in this way, I can bring peace in the midst of any anxiety. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Love to Listen? – Finding Peace

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I love the Finding Peace series because God is using it to show me the growth I have accomplished in the 26 years since I submitted myself to the leadership of Christ. Several weeks ago, Lead Pastor Ben was very vulnerable when he talked about his strengths and how there is a shadow side to each one. He told us to ask the question, “What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?” So this is my story of learning to listen, in love.

As a police officer on patrol, I encountered a wide variety of situations and the people who created them. My Field Training Officer taught me to wade in, calm things down, get the facts, tell people what they had to do next, and leave. This process did not involve extended listening, which would have resulted in making things more complicated and would have required solutions that a first responder doesn’t have access to. It involved making snap judgments about problems that had often been hours (if not weeks or years) in the making. As a control expert, I was pretty good at this on the job. At home, on the other hand, this gift didn’t work out quite so well.

Being on the receiving end of me was not good! I was good at fixing—I wasn’t so good at listening. When I left the police department for my position at CedarCreek, I was definitely a work in progress. One of my mentors once told me that maybe the reason I wanted to fix people was because I didn’t love them enough to walk with them through their struggle. I had to acknowledge that she was probably right. I wanted people to do what I said, and then be better for it. I did not want to walk with them through their pain and hurt. I realized there was improvement to be made on my end—I wasn’t fully trusting God to work in my life. I had to heal my own bitterness and pain before I could walk with others through theirs. As Ben said, I needed to put on my own oxygen mask first.

Our staff prayers and conversations taught me a whole new way of listening to people in order to truly hear what they had to say. My new colleagues were so much better at listening to learn than I was, but they were gracious to me. I learned that, most of the time, the way love shows up is by listening. Loving others creates a safe, calm place for people to express their hopes and their fears.

1 John 4:16-17
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Now that I am able to rest in the love of God, I can listen to learn instead of listening to fix. Fixing is about what I have to offer. Listening to learn is how I show I care about you! And as I listen, I can trust that God is working in you to fulfill the purpose for which he created you! This purpose can be prayerfully discerned with the help of others, but it isn’t something to be fixed by someone else telling you what to do. You and God should have the last word on that!

Questions:
How do you show up? Do you listen to fix, or do you show love by listening to learn?

Next Steps:
Put your name in place of love/it in these verses of 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Pick one and try to live that out this week.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I want to treat people the way Jesus did, with love, patience, kindness, and compassion. I am not good at this, but I want to be! Heal the broken pieces of my heart that make it hard to see people as you do. Help me trust in your love, and by that, show your love to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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Overflow of Love – Finding Peace

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In week 2 of our current series, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder encouraged us to think about the stories we tell ourselves. I thought deeply about it and reflected on a list of words he provided. Two words from the list jumped out to me: perfect and successful. I was forced to acknowledge that the stories I was telling myself were shaped by my desire for perfection and success.

As an Enneagram 5, I want to find the perfect solution to every problem I encounter—from the food I feed my family, to the homeschool curriculum I choose, to the half marathon plan I follow. These choices make me feel like I have control, but they can also be crippling and lead to anxiety. I feel like if I make the wrong choice, everything will come out wrong. This has caused health problems, friction in relationships with those I love, irritability, and insomnia. Some might say this perfectionism is caused by my love for the people I’m making decisions for, and that’s partly true. But ultimately, I am allowing my peace to be dependent on my ability to navigate life on my own power. My desire to control reveals my lack of peace and faith that God will provide for me even if the choice I make is less than perfect. It comes down to pride.

This week, Ben talked about how a lack of peace reveals a lack of love. How does love relate to pride? Pride says, “I can do it all by myself.” It says, “I can help you with your oxygen mask first because I can handle the lack of oxygen.” It says, “I don’t need anyone to help me; I am enough in myself.” Love says, “I can’t do it on my own and I need help.” It says, “In order to ensure I can help you, I need to put on my own oxygen mask first.”

John 15:4
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

1 John 4:7-8
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

If I do not abide in the love God has for me every day, I will struggle to show his love to my family and those around me. If I’m so focused on all of the things I am able to do, it leaves no room for the love of Christ to flow through me into the lives of those around me. When I spend a few minutes in the morning reading my Bible and praying, I allow God’s love to fill me. Then, when someone needs me—and it’s a constant in my house—I can respond in love. I give Christ permission to overflow from my heart into the lives of those around me. When worship is filling the walls of my home, my children hear that God is love and worthy of our praise and devotion. When we share what God has been teaching us in prayer, those around us see that our faith is real and it yields a peace that is absent in our culture.

1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

Questions:
How do you “put your own oxygen mask on first”? When you speak or act, is it under your own power, or is it an overflow of Christ’s love in you? Do you think people see peace or anxiety when they look at your life?

Next Steps:
Commit to a small, daily act that helps you spend intentional time soaking in the love of Christ. There are many different reading plans on YouVersion to help you develop a habit of reading your Bible. Commit to praying at least once a day. The more you allow God to fill up your life, the more you are able to love those around you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us a perfect example of love in Jesus. Thank you for Jesus’ example of prioritizing time with you so our hearts will be full.  Help me be consistent in daily prayer and Bible reading. I pray for your love and peace to overflow from my heart into the lives of those around me so that your name may be honored. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Stop the Spread – Finding Peace

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There are several definitions of the word “love.” It is one of the most intense emotions we experience as humans, and it spans a variety of different feelings, conditions, and attitudes that range from interpersonal affection to pleasure.

The past several months have left many of us with a vast amount of uncertainty. We may have worried about our health, the health of our loved ones, our work, our kids’ education, money, food, and safety—just to name a few. Too many changes and too much uncertainty in our everyday lives can hinder us from finding peace in our world and lead to anxiety. On a positive note, this uncertainty or change from the normal has many of us taking steps to better focus on God. And this change in focus is encouraging us to live with a non-anxious spirit—to be present with God, ourselves, and with others. That is until someone comes along and messes it all up!

Last weekend was the third week in our series, Finding Peace. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder focused on “Finding Peace Relationally.” He noted when it comes to our lack of peace, we might look away from ourselves and see other people as the problem.

Like a virus, our anxiety is contagious. When we are anxious, we cause others to be anxious. So, how do we keep anxiety from spreading (other than washing our hands of it)?

The answer is … LOVE!

Love is the remedy for anxiety. God invites us to experience love and a non-anxious presence.

1 John 4:18
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.

What kind of love does this? Agape! Agape is one of several words used to describe “love” in the Greek language. It is not a feeling as much as it is the motivation behind your actions. CompellingTruth.org describes agape love as “a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return.” It is perfectly described in the following verses:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

This week, Ben’s Bottom Line encourages us to pay attention to HOW as much as WHAT. Or, in other words, pay attention to how you interact with others as much as what you interact about.

Don’t let the “what” of your interactions cause you anxiety. Instead, pay attention to how you can love those in your life as you interact with them.

Questions:
Who are the people in your life that cause you to be anxious? What is it about interacting with them that causes your anxiety?

Think about an interaction you’ve had with someone that went poorly. Did your behavior reflect the love you have for that person?

How could you interact with them differently to lower your anxiety?

Next Steps:
When you feel your anxiety going up as a result of someone else, try to identify why. Think about how God is inviting you to step into your interactions with others instead of focusing on what your interactions are about.

Continue to read this week’s LivingItOut as we look at ways we can show love within our interactions.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, you are love. Thank you for your love and how you interact with me each day. Help me learn from your example and to show love to those around me, no matter the circumstance I find myself in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and four grandsons.


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The Greatest Importance – Finding Peace

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The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians about the place Christ should hold in their lives—the greatest position of importance possible. And we, those calling ourselves Christ followers, would be wise to similarly apply the truths written by Paul. To be clear, a heart genuinely changed by a personal relationship with Christ will, in turn, reflect that changed life. Many Christ followers can speak to the challenges of choosing God first in every area of our lives. Doing so is not an easy nor perfect process, but it is necessary to become Christ-like.

Colossians 3:5-10
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

I am confident Paul carefully (and intentionally) chose the words “put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.” He makes it very clear that there is no place for anything in our lives that disconnects us from God. The sin and evil desires around us (and often in us) smack against the new life that God has given us. When we give them place in our lives, we miss out on the peace he has for us, too.

Yesterday, we talked about the danger in striving to be like God. This includes relying on our own strength to “put to death” our sinful desires. We don’t have to do this on our own, though. Jesus has freed us from it through his death and resurrection.

This truth becomes the focal point of our new life. Now, when we read our Bibles, it reminds us of his grace. When we pray, it connects us to him. When we worship, we remember who he is and what he has done.  We don’t do these things to free ourselves from our sins, we do them to remember that we already are free.

This gives us strength to identify and name those sinful patterns in our life and remember they no longer have a grip on us. We are free to live the new life God has given to us. Free to identify those areas of sin in our life. As we name them and give them over to God, he takes his rightful position of importance in our lives.

Questions:
What are the areas in your life that hold a greater importance than God?

What sinful areas need put to death in your life?

Next Steps:          
Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Pray for spiritual victory in tearing down your identified strongholds. Ask God to reveal areas of weakness that need shored up.

Establish people in your life that you can talk to about your areas of weakness. Consider joining a Group.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me as I am. Thank you for loving me as a precious child, not as a pathetic, lost kid—even though at times, I am pathetic and lost. Thank you for guiding me on the path you have prepared for me. Infuse me with your presence and your power to pull down the detrimental strongholds in my life, and surround me with your unconditional love and forgiveness when my weaknesses get the better of me. Help me to remember my sufficiency is in you and you alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.


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Turn Down The Noise – Finding Peace

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Strive to be like Jesus! I think many Christ followers tell themselves that over and over throughout the course of their lives. At least, I have—many times. But can we really be like Jesus? And, more importantly, is that truly what God wants us to do?

Following Jesus does not mean we have to be like Jesus. We cannot do what Jesus did on this earth. We cannot turn water into wine, or walk on water, or bring the dead back to life. Jesus was perfect, and it is just not possible for us to be like him—we don’t have what it takes. In fact, trying to be perfect like Jesus can create an internal anxiety in us that can negatively affect us and those around us. During the weekend message, Lead Pastor Ben referred to it as internal noise.

God does not expect us to be perfect, but he does want us to live in perfect peace. This does not mean that we will live in a bubble, and everything around us will be without conflict. It means that he provides a way for us  to “turn down the noise” inside of us and be at peace when anxious moments arise.

So how do we turn down the noise inside? It starts with knowing that when we receive Christ into our hearts, we no longer have to strive to be like him because he lives in us.

Galatians 2:20
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.

You see, Christ died so we can stop trying to do it on our own. Is it always easy to trust in this? No! As humans, we still tell ourselves, “I shouldn’t have made that mistake” or “I can do better” or worse yet, “I have messed up so many times, I don’t deserve to be called a Christian.”

This is not true—we do not find peace through our works.

Galatians 2:21 
I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

So what are the steps for turning down the noise and finding peace?

1.       See the noise: Recognize that you are experiencing internal anxiety.
2.     Prayerfully name it: For example, “God, I realize I am becoming overbearing with those around me.”
3.      Trust his victory over it: Believe that God’s got this.
4.     Rest in his perfect love: Experience the peace of giving God control.

Questions:
When was the last time you experienced that “internal noise” rising within you? How did you handle it?

Do you know that Christ lives in you, and through him, you can find peace?

Next Steps:
Put the four steps to finding peace into practice.

Join a group and share with others your successes and failures in finding peace.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I know that I am not perfect like you and can never hope to be. Instead, I give my life to you and believe that you live in me. Through you, I have the strength to turn down the noise of anxiety when it arises in me. God, please give me the wisdom to let go of the unattainable desire to be like you and the trust needed to relinquish my sense of control. I give it to you so that I might find the peace that you intended for me in my life. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, a first-time contributor to the LivingitOut.


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ME? WORRIED…? – Finding Peace

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Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder … I was shocked! I thought everyone was tied up in knots, trying to be all things for all people. Although I had been a Christ follower for 20 years at that point, I still had no idea how to tap into Jesus’ “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7 ESV). Sadder still, I didn’t know what I was missing.

In that state of mind and spirit, I continued to be a control freak—I mean expert—honing my skills at being ever so “helpful” to everyone by interjecting myself into their every dilemma to give them what “they wanted.” I did want to help provide answers to their problems, but what I really wanted was their approval. I was listening to that lifelong approval-addicted voice in my head and driving everyone nuts.

As Lead Pastor Ben Snyder pointed out during the weekend message, that is NOT what Jesus wants for us. Why? Because we make a mess of being in control. And what we want is not always what he wants. Fortunately, what God wants is for us to receive the true peace that can only come from living out his will.

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

In other words, recognize this one eternal truth: God is in control, not us. Accept that there will be suffering, and live life as Jesus teaches us to. I learned this through the gifts of many emotionally and physically painful events and trials over the years.  What a blessed gift they all turned out to be. God taught me two things:

  1. Peace is not the absence of strife but the presence of Christ in my life every minute of every day as I go through strife.
  2. God’s ways are trustworthy. Putting every situation and fear into God’s hands is the only way to maintain perfect peace through every failure, health issue, disappointment, and loss of life.

So, as the saying goes, “Let go and let God.” Because when you decide to go “Rambo” in response to situations or sit frozen in fear, you rob yourself and others of the blessings that come from turning off your reactivity and demands to have your own way. Why? Because these choices are only a means of temporarily escaping your fears of “losing the control” you never had in the first place.

Questions:
Are you allowing your own view of things to prevent you from living a life empowered by  faith, grace, and God? If so, why?

Examine your thought process and how it affects your daily life. Are your life choices evidence that you believe you are the master of your earthly and eternal destiny and not God?

Do you trust God to provide what you truly need in every eventuality in this life? Do your choices reflect that? If not, why?

Next Steps:
Let go of your delusions that you are the greatest power in the universe and can plot your path better than the one true God. Then turn your life over to God by asking for forgiveness for your sin of pride (and all that comes with it) and acknowledging that your eternal life is safely in his hands through the gift of Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection. Then accept the gift of eternal life from God through the powerful, perfect work of Jesus.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for a love so large and deep I cannot possibly understand but accept with open arms. I am a sinner, imperfect and unworthy. But I know you love me anyway or you wouldn’t have sent your perfect son, Jesus, to save me from the cost of my transgressions.  Lord, please use me to serve you and bless others as I grow ever closer to you. Please remove all the internal barriers I put up to protect myself from what “might” happen, and instead, help me turn the care of my life over to you. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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The Shadow Side of Me – Finding Peace

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As I was listening to Lead Pastor Ben Snyder define peace as a non-anxious presence, I thought, “Well, I am failing at that!” I don’t know about anyone else, but ever since COVID-19 hit, I feel like I’m surrounded by moving targets: There are things that I should be doing. There are things that I shouldn’t be doing. But those targets keep moving and changing. And this causes me (as an Enneagram 1, if any of you were curious) a lot of anxiety! I can’t fix it; I can’t problem-solve it. I can’t hide in my routine because there is no routine. I am forced to be at the mercy of whatever the day brings.

Ben talked about the shadow of our strengths and how noticing this is so important, especially during trying times, so we don’t damage our relationships. While I feel that I am capable of managing how I react to and love others well, I’m finding that I do not extend that same grace to myself.

This often shows up for me when I’m standing in my kitchen. That long list of things “to do” starts going through my head. I think to myself, in order to be a good wife, mother, and employee, these things need to be done today! And because I can typically get through my list in a day, I hold myself to that standard every day, which only elevates my anxiety.

Then the phone rings. One of my children needs me, and off I go in a different direction to take care of that.

At the end of the day, when I can’t complete my list, the self-condemning thoughts come as soon as my head hits the pillow. It’s almost like I can’t rest because I don’t deserve it. I become an anxious presence for myself, and if I don’t catch myself from going down that rabbit hole, I fall in, and my peaceful sleep is gone.

I did not allow that list to get in the way of loving the people around me, but I did let it get in the way of loving myself. I have a deep-down need to be a good Christian and prove I’m worthy of God’s love by doing a bunch of good things every day.

That need is a lie.

As I learn to surrender my lists and my expectations to Jesus, I receive the truth: He chose me, “even before he made the world … to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4). “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5).

And that has zero to do with my list! 

Questions:
What expectations have you put on yourself that might not be yours to carry?

Have you allowed God to define your worth, or are you trying to be “good enough” for God?

Next Steps:
Get rid of your list and use that time to listen to what God is saying to you right now.

Share with a friend what God said to you and decide what your next step is going to be.

Prayer:
Lord, we need you more than you know right now. Please break through our walls and our anxieties and let us feel your peace in our daily walk. Teach us how to hear you more and lead us to freedom by growing our faith in you! Amen.


This post was written by April Willer, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Anchor of Peace – Finding Peace

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Have you ever heard a song, and in that moment, it was exactly what you needed to hear? What about a church message? That’s where I am with this series, Finding Peace.

As a teacher starting a hybrid school year, my work circumstances are anything but peaceful. I cannot put into words my conflicting emotions between how amazing it is to be back with students, and at the same time, how insanely difficult this format of teaching is. There is considerably more lesson prep, difficulties with managing students that are absent because of illness and/or quarantine, and constant uncertainty looming over each week. This timely message has been a reminder of the anchor of PEACE we have in Jesus. Last week, we saw how our reactivity is an indicator of anxiety in our lives. This week, we see how Jesus invites us to TURN DOWN the NOISE to increase HIS PEACE.

Our theme verse for this series comes from Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (emphasis added). Lead Pastor Ben Snyder described this type of peace as an internal peace that is holistic and provisional—not conditional or dependent upon circumstances. He further described peace as a non-anxious presence—being fully aware of God, self, and others.

This gift of peace is readily available to each one of us as we trust in Jesus (see John 14:27). As followers of Christ, we can do things our own way or we can do things his way. The following two verses urge us to give up our way and follow his:

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Galatians 2:20
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.

If we want to follow Jesus, we need to give up our own way and turn down the noise in our lives. For me, instead of turning to social media, complaining, or self-medicating with a milkshake when frustrations or anxieties arise at work, I can turn to Jesus, spend time in his Word and prayer, praise him through some worship music, or give space for the Holy Spirit to bring the gift of peace into my life.

Join us this week as we look at what hijacks the peace in our lives and how we can die to self—giving space to accept the gift of peace that Jesus has for each one of us.

Questions:
Have you been trying to handle your lack of peace all on your own? Is it working? What are some habits you can turn from so that you can turn to Jesus in the midst of your anxiety?

Next Steps:
Have an honest conversation with yourself about what may hijack the peace in your life. Seeing it on paper by journaling may be helpful as well. Take a step toward Jesus this week by replacing one action you would normally do in an anxious moment. Stop and pray, listen to a worship song, or open your Bible and let God speak to you.

Prayer:
God, we thank you for the gift of peace that you offer us in this chaotic world. Help us to turn from our normal way of dealing with things that rob us of peace and turn to you, allowing you to work in our lives. Open our hearts and minds to receiving your peace that is not dependent on our circumstances. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media