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Freedom to Feel

Freedom to Feel

By Karen Baloy

Dr. Caroline Leaf’s ‘Brain Detox Program’ is designed to help you rid your mind of toxic thinking patterns and replace them with healthy thinking patterns. Dr. Leaf explains that the most important thing is to be honest about how you are feeling. Unfortunately, Christians sometimes feel guilty about being honest about negative feelings. 

In Philippians 4:6, Paul encourages us to take everything to God in prayer — including complaints, petitions, thanksgiving and praise. In the Psalms, David does all of this. 

One of my favorite things about David is his candor with God. He was considered to be a man after God’s heart and was so expressive with his language. I had spent years burying my feelings. It wasn’t until after reading several Psalms and learning about David that I finally felt the freedom to explore all of my personal feelings with God. 

Psalm 64 starts with David petitioning, “O God, listen to my complaint. Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.” Most of us can relate to David’s pain of having nasty things said about him. You can hear the fear in his voice when he pleads in verse two, “Hide me from the plots of this evil mob, from this gang of wrongdoers.” That is raw honesty. God encourages us to be honest. (It isn’t as if He doesn’t know our situation anyway.) In fact, He loves honesty. God wants to be engaged in our lives, the good, the bad, and the ugly. What freedom!

The other major lesson we can learn by reading about David’s life is he understands the importance of handing his problems over to God. David allows God to handle the situation in Psalm 64 as evidenced in verse seven, “But God himself will shoot them with his arrows, suddenly striking them down.” Lastly and most importantly, David closes most of his psalms by encouraging everyone to praise God. 

I’m now trying to apply David’s strategy to my daily life. I do it by acknowledging my feelings, discussing them with God, handing over what I cannot control to Him, and praising Him for His faithfulness. King David is such a great example of how we should engage God!

Photo by Jackson David from Pixabay.

Fearing God

Fearing God

By Karen Baloy

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). I felt so liberated the first time I heard this verse. I had been completely owned by my fears prior to hearing it. Whenever I would feel the signs of a panic attack starting, I would recite this verse. I sometimes had to chant it on loop until the feelings passed. I knew God’s words were truth. I wasn’t going to let the enemy’s lies prevail. I wanted to be calm and loving, just like my precious Jesus.

As 1 John 4:18a reminded me, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” (NKJV) Fear had no place in my life! Romans 8:15a was right, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear”. These verses brought me to a place of total reverence and awe of God, not to mention giving me an appreciation for the continual peace His Spirit provides.

Once I became more settled in my New Testament understanding of God, I began to study the Old Testament. I was immediately bombarded with verses that told me that I needed to fear God to find peace. The voices of my fire and brimstone preachers and teachers of my youth came flooding back. Is God good or is God bad? I’m supposed to demonstrate my love to God by showing him I’m afraid?!? The mixed messages continued to confuse me, even while reading other chapters of Psalms.

Reading Psalm 25 was a transformative experience. I felt urged to research verses 12-14, “Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”

After reading this verse, I wanted to find out why being afraid of Him would bring me wonderful things. It didn’t take long to discover that there are TWO definitions of fear. According to Eugene H. Merrill on BibleStudyTools.com, the two definitions of the verb fear are: 1) produces awe, reverence and obedience; and 2) that which causes one to cover in dread and terror in anticipation of his displeasure.

Prior to the revelation of these two definitions, I hadn’t quite reached peace because I thought I was flawed by not being afraid of God. But then I realized this is exactly what the enemy wanted. Now I can rejoice: Hallelujah, His truth has set me free! I’m no longer a slave to a misunderstanding of a single word. I have now released the spirit of fear by fearing God with all of my heart and all of my soul!

Why I’m Grateful for My Struggle

Why I’m Grateful for My Struggle

By Karen Baloy

“1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 3 My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? 4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? 6 I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. 8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.” Psalms 6

This psalm was written toward the end of David’s life when he was expressing sorrow for sin. It is the first of seven psalms that are referred to as Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession. While not all sickness is a direct result of personal sin, when it is, the pain can be instrumental in bringing the sinner face-to-face with God.

David and I have shared the same battle cry. One early morning in 2015, I woke up and wasn’t able to count numerically. Over the next few days, I began to lose my words. I had to stop driving a few weeks later because I couldn’t remember where I lived. Shortly thereafter, I started losing weight rapidly. Then my organs started to fail and I was too weak to walk more than a few yards. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

Doctors and family members had their opinions of what was going on, but I knew none of it was true. I was eating well and serving myself healthy portions. I kept searching for answers all the while being taken care of by adult babysitters. Through the help of a dear friend, I eventually received a diagnosis of long term chronic Lyme disease. It took over a year to rehabilitate my body with very expensive treatments. While I had a series of biological risk factors to contract the disease, years of stress on my body made me particularly susceptible.

Lyme disease is incurable. The best I can hope for is to have long remissions where I can lead a normal life. But I live with the uncertainty that I could flare overnight and my life could come to a screeching halt for anywhere from a few days to a few months. The threat looms large. I would often cry myself to sleep wondering what the next day would hold and whether I would have to cancel my plans yet again. I immediately related to David when he cried, “I am worn out from all my groaning; All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”

After spending a lot of time in the Word and reading “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, I realized that God was using this disease to teach me how to live in the present. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone, yet I am grateful that it forced me to lean on Him rather than my worries and human understanding to get through each day. God is the great Healer and Comforter. Thanks to Him, I no longer let tomorrow’s worries steal from my today. “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Indeed, the Lord receives my prayer EVERY SINGLE DAY. Thank you, Jehovah-Rophe (God our Healer)!

My Daily Battle With Rebellion

My Daily Battle With Rebellion

By Karen Baloy

“1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” 7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2

Psalms 2 is a Messianic psalm in which nations and kings are urged to serve God because He has entrusted the ultimate judgement (the wrath of God or blessed eternity) to Christ. Verse 1 is a reminder that our sin nature hates authority so we rebel to get our way, all in vain. Many chapters in the Bible refer to the theme of rebellion. I have realized that in reading the Bible, I typically think of rebellion as something extreme like killing, stealing, idol worshiping or destroying nations. While those are terrible things, these things don’t keep me down on a daily basis. Lust for control keeps me down. It’s insidious and I had never realized it.

Natalie Grant captured it perfectly in her song “King of the World” when she confesses, “I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye” and “I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world.” It never works. Our God is omnipotent; he doesn’t take orders from me. He has the power to sit in the heavens and laugh at my futile resistance, bring His wrath or bless me. He’s in control. My only job is to put my childlike trust in Him and relinquish control. In doing so, the final verse tells me I will be blessed: “Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.” Thank you, Papa!

 

 

Destroying the Enemy’s Lies with God’s Truth

Destroying the Enemy’s Lies with God’s Truth

By Karen Baloy

 

Scripture Reference: Psalm 1

Read Scripture. Listen to God. Be obedient. Have faith. Pray vulnerably. Meditate on His Truths. Repent quickly. Seek godly counsel. Surround yourself with Christ-like people. Fear not. Repeat. Psalm 1 perfectly captures my life before and after hearing, understanding and living these commands. “Like the chaff which the wind drives away,” I had nothing to stabilize me when adversity would come my way. I would seek ungodly counsel from family and friends who would tell me what I wanted to hear and feed into the lies of our broken world. I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t matter. I wasn’t lovable. They deserved it. I was better than them. I wasn’t worthy. Get them before they get me. Win at any cost. No one will be there for you. It’s you against the world. I believed these lies and lived accordingly.

Verse 6 ends by saying “the way of the ungodly shall perish.” The Hebrew word for “perish” means “to destroy, be ruined, be lost, fail.” I was perishing physically, emotionally and spiritually because of the enemy’s lies when God crossed my path with a Godly counselor whom He has used to teach me how to read Scripture and hear Him. She has also taught me the importance of praying for wisdom and discernment in all that I do. In addition, He has used her to plant seeds in my heart and encourage the vulnerability to reach out to other Godly people whom have been instrumental in shaping my walk with Him. As a result, I have come to “delight in the Law of the Lord” and meditate on it “day and night.” I now feel “like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season; Whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.” To God be the glory!