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by: Carole L. Haines
I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder in my late 20’s/ early 30’s. I was paralyzed with fear sometimes, even as a Christian. But God began a journey with me that has led me from Fear to Freedom in Him. He saved my life by saving my mind. Here’s a small glimpse of that journey.
As I cried out to God, from the place of mothering three small children, about how afraid I felt of people and caring for our three young ones, I came across these verses:
16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)
I sensed God say to me through this Scripture, “My perfect love is the only thing that can free you from fear. My love for You is so perfect that it casts fear out. You can’t get rid of fear, Carole, but I can cast it out as you fill Yourself up with the knowledge of my love.” So, I devoured all the Scriptures I could find on His love and began to grow stronger and less fearful.
Next, I began to see just how racing my thoughts were. I came across the Scriptures that said:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (1 Or. 10:3-5)
“Lord”, I said, “how can I possibly take thoughts captive when they are racing through my mind like an out of control train.” I asked the Lord to please slow down my thought processes and help me to learn to capture them and bring them under the obedience of what His Word says. A friend told me once that just because I thought something, didn’t make that thing true. So, I began to examine my thoughts and line them up with God’s Word said instead. I learned to replace my false thoughts with His truth.
I learned how to Study the Bible Inductively and devoured Bible studies on every subject that I struggled with. When I didn’t know something, I would go to the concordance and look it up in the Scriptures and just eat up what God said to me. It became my passion. The more I was in His Word, the more I changed. I began to Believe Him above what I thought or what others said about me. It’s been a journey I have been on for close to 30 years. About ten years ago, I sensed from the Lord that I should write down all that He was teaching me. So, I did, and then one thing led to another and I found myself starting a blog, to encourage other believers. That’s when hisshadowings.com was born. I have been writing what He gives me ever since and just publishing it there. Who knows who I reach, but to encourage one believer a day is still 365 a year, so it’s been a wonderful outlet for me. Hope that story blesses you.
by: Carole L. Haines
God has been speaking to me a lot lately about honesty and transparency. He’s been dealing with deeper issues inside of me. There are things He is seeking to work out of me, as He transforms me more and more into the Image of Jesus.
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
When we think about a caterpillar in its cocoon, or a baby in the womb, there’s a lot of mystery there, a lot is unseen. We just know that a baby transforms continually until it is ready to be birthed. We just see a caterpillar in a cocoon that comes out as a Beautiful Butterfly, but the process is quite mysterious, just how it all happens.
I think our transformation in Christ is like that. We are in a state of hiddenness with God, as He remolds us into the Image of Jesus. So much of it is a mystery, and we are often confused by what He is doing. Like being under anesthesia as we go under the Great Physician’s knife, He is doing a miraculous work in each of us. When we feel convicted of sin, our tendency is to want to run away, hide it, stuff it down. But the amazing thing about God’s revelation of sin to us is what He asks us to do with it, once we see it in ourselves.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
An honest life, truth in our innermost parts. Revealed truth from God’s Word about who He is, who we are, and how to view everyone else. That’s what I want, it’s what I need. Run to Him, not from sin. Take what He reveals and run to Him so You can recieve mercy and find grace to help you in your faith and transformation in Christ.
Photo by: Cody J. Haines
A Poem by: Carole L. Haines
The Love of God is as constant as the Sunrise
Each morning it finds its Vestibule
rising at the Summons of God
hastening to its place of splendor
reflecting on the clouds, oceans, lakes and rivers
changing colors with every passing moment.
Nothing can stop the rhythm of its rising
The Love of God is irrepressible, pursuing us relentlessly
His kindness leads us to repentance, turning us around
Gently guiding us like a flock of sheep,
tending our rebellious wounds, festering with regrets
His love does not depend on our performance,
It’s not fickle like the audience of men
The Love of God has chosen us as His focus of affection
Not because of who we are, but simply Because He is love
His love cost the greatest price, but we did not have to pay it
His love was paid for by Himself, by His Son
His love cost Him everything, it costs us our belief
He calls us to believe, to trust, to follow, to hold steady
To let Him be our Guide, Our Lord, Our Reason
Yes, the Love of God is steady as the rising and setting of the Sun
And I rise each morning knowing I am loved
Photo by: Cody J. Haines
By: Carole L. Haines
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Thoughts Of Condemnation and confliction were brimming over in my mind, not toward others, but those pesky self-accusing thoughts. Things like:
“It’s never gonna work out! Things will always be this hard, and that’s your own fauilt.”
“What’s the use, as diligent as you are, things just keep cropping up to trip you up and hinder you. Just relax and take it easy. Do what you want for a while,” forget about all those other things.”
“You have made a mess of your life. There’s no redeeming it now. You’re too old, too far along in years. Forget about it and just move on to enjoying the rest of what’s left.
“Just take your ball and go home, forget about the Body of Christ, they will never really accept you anyway. Launch out into a ministry all your own instead.”
Just a cacophony of confusing, condemning and conflicting information. It was like walking into a forest where I didn’t see that bee’s nest up ahead and walked right under it, and now they’re angry and stinging me. That’s how those thoughts felt, like stinging bees.
But God’s Word tells me this:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
I got up went outside, sat back in the good old Adirondack chair and gazed up towards the sky. To my wonder and surprise, the treetops were on fire with tiny little flickering lights. Dozens and dozens of them. A calming myriad of tiny little lights displayed before me. I just gazed in wonder; it took my breath away. I just marveled at these silent creatures, flickering and flying about. I researched why these creatures flash and sparkle. Here are 3 interesting facts.
Fireflies are energy efficient
Fireflies’ lights are the most efficient lights in the world. One-hundred percent of the energy created is emitted through the light. In comparison, an incandescent bulb emits 10 percent of its energy as light and a fluorescent bulb emits 90 percent of its energy through light.
Their light shows are mating acts
Most of the fireflies flying around are males looking for a mate. Each species has a specific light pattern that they use to communicate with each other. Once a female spots a male she likes, she will respond with the same light pattern. Usually females are perched on plants, waiting for a mate.
Some species synchronize their flashing
12 Fascinating Facts About Fireflies, by Katie Pohlman June. 10, 2016 11:38AM EST
I tell you all this because I feel God prompted me to go outside and just sit before this wonder of nature. so He could encourage my downtrodden heart. These tiny little creatures are small and seemingly insignificant by themselves, hardly noticeable. But together they created a Symphony of Lights to rival the greatest fireworks display. I feel the Lord was enabling me to see through nature, that I may feel like an insignificant little light in this world, but with all the other little lights in the Body of Christ, we put on quite a show, a luminous display of God’s Glory, to a watching, weary world.
5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (Romans 15:5-7)
Feeling insignificant, overwhelmed. Maybe get up, go outside tonight and gaze up at the sky. Even if you don’t have fireflies, you have His stars to tell you the same thing.
by: Carole L. Haines
13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)
His cousin John had just been beheaded. John’s head had been treated as sport to be mocked and displayed in Herod’s palace. Jesus had grown up with this boy. They were both announced by God before their birth, their mother’s went through part of their pregnancy together. They were both prophesied as being special envoys of God to the world. John Himself reveals that He didn’t know Jesus was the Messiah until the day of His baptism.
29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)
All Jesus wanted to do after John’s beheading was have some time alone to grieve him. This beloved, childhood companion was now gone. They had a bond that was close, I believe. But Jesus’ grief got interrupted. The people followed him, seeking healing and wholeness. Jesus was not angry but felt compassion for them and healed them. Then He sought time alone again and sent his disciples ahead of Him in a boat, while He stayed behind.
Jesus is our amazing example of how to respond when life is hard and all we want to do is go off and be alone for a while. He treated the people who needed Him with compassion and love. He did not scold them but received them openly and with healing in His hands. God will provide us with the time we need apart, as we trust Him with the time He has us ministering to others. Being a pretty extreme introvert, I would like to spend most of my time alone, but that is not God’s call for me. He provides what I need without excusing me from His Kingdom Work. He is perfect in His understanding of what we need and is drawing us close to Himself in the quiet times as well as in the busy times.
By: Carole L. Haines
How do we measure Spiritual Growth in our lives? How can we tell we are making progress, when sometimes we feel like we’re falling back? There is an answer to that question right in the Book of 2 Peter, chapter 1.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I highly recommend that you go back and read the whole 1st chapter of 2 Peter at this point, just to get the amazing Context of this Scripture. But in practical encouragement about growing in our Lord Jesus, this is a key passage. The desire of each of our hearts as followers of Jesus, is to be fruitful in the Kingdom of God, to be useful. God tells us here in 2 Peter how to be sure that is happening. We don’t go around planning lots of Christian events or happenings, although those can be important places for fruit growth. This passage tells us to have these 8 qualities in our life and to apply all diligence in growing them up. Faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. These 8 qualities of our Character are what God emphasizes here in our personal growth. We are to let Him transform us by the renewing of our mind, and offer our bodies as living sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1-2). I think sometimes we focus too much on outward projects instead of inward Intimacy with God. I believe that God is showing us here that as we spend lots of quality time with Him alone and growing in these qualities in our relationships with others, spiritual growth for ourselves and His Kingdom, are the ultimate result. We get it backwards sometimes and try to bear fruit through programs and ministries, but Jesus says it this way:
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
I will finish this post with a final thought from my favorite Devotional.
We say we do not expect God to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we do! I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all of the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I will do my duty, not for duty’s sake but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience all of the magnificent grace of God is mine through the glorious atonement by the Cross of Christ.
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
By: Carole L. Haines
I was praying for a friend who is struggling with despondency, having heard the cry of her heart as she uttered, “What’s the point?” Life can be hard like that and most of us have experienced that feeling in our lives, some of us more than others. So, what is the point? Scholars and Philosophers have been debating this question since time began. I believe my friend was struggling especially with herself and all the obstacles, short-comings and failures she is facing right now. It can be overwhelming. When I used to run cross-country (and I only did it for one semester) I fell before the finish line. Everything in my body told me to just stay down, just sit there. My muscles were throbbing, fatigued and weak from over-use. But there it was, just beyond my sight, the finish line. I can’t remember if others helped me there, they must have because I just couldn’t stand up. Not even sure I crossed that line or was helped off to theside. But I did get up, and I did move on.The race was over, and I was glad. I was glad that I didn’t just sit there, much as I wanted to, I got up. I kept going. Paul in The Book of Hebrews describes our life this way in Chapter 12:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…”
That Great cloud of witnesses is described in the Chapter Prior, Chapter 11. It is often called the Hall of Faith. So many have gone before us in this Journey with God and it’s not a sparkling, clean, perfect group of people, either. We had some seriously messed up fore-runners in the faith. At least two were liars, two were scheming manipulators. One was a strong leader who committed adultery and who neglected to discipline his kids. Another asked for wisdom, but used it for so many wrong purposes, including indulging himself beyond all others described in the Bible. I mean, they were all kinds of messed up, even as we are. And I believe that is exactly why God allowed their stories to be so raw in the Bible. We needed to see that God loves harlots and prostitutes right into His kingdom. He restores the adulterer who truly repents. God keeps His promises despite our many failings. The Apostle Paul shares about this in 2 Timothy 2:
11 It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
God’s faithfulness is not based on our performance, whether good or bad. His faithfulness is based on His own character. He is a promise keeper. So, if you are feeling like my dear friend, who is discouraged and thinking, “What’s the point?”, rest in His faithfulness to His own promises, built on His own character. We are all kinds of messed up in this world, but God is all kinds of Wonderful. There is no sin He cannot forgive, no kind of failure that He cannot redeem. Listen to what He says in the Book of Isaiah 50:2,
“Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?
Our entire being cries out to God, “Of course not!” We know God has a strong arm and infinite power to deliver, we are just so weary ourselves, we feel so weak. But THE Apostle Paul turns those inadequate feelings on their head.
26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NASB)
So, let’s take our all kinds of messed up and lay it before God. Let’s rejoice as He makes it all kinds of wonderful to the praise of His glory and grace.