Fear vs. Faith

Fear sometimes starts as a small thought.

Fear is composed by the enemy. It could be a hypothetical problem — not always real:

“What if something bad happens?” Replace that “something” with a specific concern or crisis that comes to mind. It is a thought that can easily escalate into worry, anxiety, and fear. It is a question that demands our attention. That question can overwhelm us and distract us from God. Or it can push us to seek Him.

God is capable. God is always present. We simply need to call Him near.

What if something bad really happens?! We’ve all asked that question, right? When it enters our minds, I think we have two options: worry or pray. 

I choose to pray because God listens. I can feel hopeless but I do not need to live without hope. 

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WORRY 

If you start to worry, consider a few of God’s promises:

God is faithful. “The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is faithful. He will ever be true to His pledged word.” A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

God is present. Do not fear because I am WITH you. Immanuel — God with us.

God offers peace. He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14).

PRAY 

God pours out His comfort, love, and protection upon us during storms. Walk by faith in the One who promises to hold on to us — tight. In Him, we are strong. In Him, we are courageous. In Him, we find peace. In Him, we are afraid of nothing when we remember that God can handle everything. 

I’ve learned a lot about praying and receiving peace: During some very difficult circumstances. I remembered and relied on God’s promise that He is with us. He is always present. He holds us close to His heart, and there — we don’t have to be afraid.

He instructs and invites us to pray. “Come to Me all you who are weary… and I will give you rest for your souls.” — Jesus. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer… present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” — the Apostle Paul. And when we do pray, He is gentle with us. He tells us to trust Him. Trusting Him magnifies hope.

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So let’s bring Him our worries through prayer, and also rejoice in His love. Let’s take it straight to God.

When we choose to pray — instead of giving way to worry — what happens? 

We grow a bit in faith. We see more of His love for us. As we saw in Philippians 4:7, His peace guards our hearts and minds. We don’t have to pray perfectly! Sometimes, we don’t even know how to begin. But “the Spirit helps us in our weakness…” (Romans 8:26).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Friend, I encourage you to talk with the Lord about anything and everything that worries you!

Love, Helo

Easter: Celebrating His Sacrificial Love

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I’m looking forward to celebrating Easter tomorrow. I remember celebrating this day of hope when my three kids were little, years ago. My daughter loved to wear flouncy dresses and colorful bows, whereas my sons resisted any attempt to dress them up. My family went to church in the morning and then returned home, where the Easter egg hunt began. They raced each other to find the most eggs, and they laughed with delight at the candies and coins inside. Then we’d sit around a decorated table. I cherish those memories. But there is more to Easter than the traditions that we follow. To celebrate Easter well, we have to take a look at what happened yesterday.

Yesterday was Good Friday.  

On Good Friday, we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He claimed to be the Son of God, capable of forgiving sin and reconciling people to his Father. Religious leaders were infuriated by that claim, so they had Jesus arrested at night. He was put through a mock trial, battered by false accusations, and mocked mercilessly. He was blindfolded and beaten. And then, He was condemned to die on a cross.  

Jesus was crucified. He died for us. He died in our place for our sins.

The ultimate cost of sin is death, including separation from God. On the cross, Jesus paid that price so that we wouldn’t have to. He died to pay our debt, forgive our sin, and give us the gift of salvation and eternal life (Romans 6:23).

He died so that we could be forgiven and free.

He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 22:34). He absorbed God’s wrath towards sin and experienced separation from Him: He shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). He said, “it is finished,” with his last breath; He had saved us (John 19:30).

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So, Jesus died for us. But, thank God, that’s not the end of the story.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday.

Jesus was buried. Three days passed. His friends and followers grieved. But then on Easter, God raised Jesus from the dead. He had broken the power of death – sin – and He rose victoriously and joyfully.

He is alive!

Not only is He alive, but He also welcomes us into the family of God. He promises to save everyone who believes in Him (Mark 16:15-20) and to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). He sends the Holy Spirit to help us and show us the truth (John 14:15-17). He calls us to follow Him and reassures us that He will return; someday He will make all things new.  

That’s what we celebrate at Easter. Newness.  

We rejoice that through Jesus, we get to have a new relationship with God. We get to join His ministry of reconciliation, sharing the Gospel with others so that they too may be reconciled to God through grace by faith (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). We get to trust that someday, God will restore everything that is currently broken.

That’s another thing that we celebrate at Easter. Restoration.

Jesus has risen and conquered death; we too will get to experience resurrection. In essence, “resurrection is not just consolation –  it is restoration. We get it all back – the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life –  but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and strength and joy…” (Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering).

We get hope today… and Heaven someday.

Today is a Day for Hope.

So today, I have great hope. I have confidence that Jesus has already earned my salvation and that He loves me deeply. I also have joy because He is within me.  

Cherished friends, I pray that God’s love would fill you with joy today as you think about what Jesus has done for us.  

Happy Easter!

Helo

Pray Because God Listens

Five years ago, I was asking God a lot of questions.

I was diagnosed with a rare, vicious brain tumor. The diagnosis came as a shock. I could hardly speak, so I whispered, “God, please make something beautiful out of this.” I desperately wanted His help, protection, and love. I needed Him to listen to me. Like anyone else who receives a terrible medical diagnosis, I hoped for a miracle.

A week later, I was in a hospital on operating table, looking up at my neurosurgeon. My last whisper, before the anesthesia, was a prayer: “I love you, God.”

Miraculously, I survived the surgery and life support. I then did 25 weeks of rehabilitation – learning to walk, talk, eat, think, and function again. I learned how to pray again. I began to see that God listened to every single prayer. He didn’t heal me instantly, but He listened and provided strength.

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What do you believe about prayer? 

I am confident that if you and I were chatting right now, you could share a story about a time when you prayed – really hoping that God would listen. Did you cry out to God during an emergency or tragedy? Did you believe that He would respond? Did you worry that He wouldn’t hear and help?

When I had that brain tumor, I prayed boldly for a miracle. I also prayed for healing and help with daily challenges. I got frustrated when He didn’t answer my prayers right away. I believed a lie – if I didn’t see Him fixing the problem, then He hadn’t even heard my prayers.

I haven’t always believed that God listens to every single prayer. That’s because I didn’t always understand why He allows pain —incomprehensible suffering. I had questions. “Really, God? This? Now? You must overestimate my strength if you think that I can handle this. And if you think this is a great way to teach and strengthen me, no thanks.”

When I asked those questions, God listened. He said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). He invited me to trust Him and be patient.

When we pray, we’re talking with a God who listens. 

I believe that God listens to prayer. He is a loving Father who sees and cares about us, so He listens when we talk to Him. We should pray to Him about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). He is our Strength, our Help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1-3, Psalm 28:7).

Today, I have more confidence in our Father’s grace and goodness towards those who trust Him. I’ve learned to hold onto the truth — pray because He listens.

Today, I have the privilege of sharing my story and my faith in God’s promises. My faith depends on the Gospel, the Bible, and miracles along the way. My daily goal is to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

The Gospel Reveals that God Loves and Listens. 

The Gospel is the story of how God rescues people and restores them to a relationship with Himself. As people, we are sinful — we walk away from God in rebellious disobedience. We face separation from Him as a result of sin. We also face separation if we’re stubborn and try to tackle challenges without Him. But God loved us so much that he sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place to pay for our sins. He paid our debt so that we could receive mercy, so that God could forgive us and welcome us back into His family.

Now, we know God truly loves us. If Jesus loved us enough to die for us, then surely He loves us enough to listen to our prayers. Jesus is alive. He rose again, and He prays for us (John 17:9-26). The Holy Spirit also helps us to pray (Romans 8:26-27). Because He loves and helps us, we can pray with boldness. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

The Bible Invites Us to Pray. 

So, I pray because the Gospel convinces me that God loves me enough to listen. I also pray because the Bible invites me to do so. The Bible is full of prayers. If you’re not sure how to pray, consider the book of Psalms. Each Psalm is a prayer — giving thanks, asking questions, being honest about pain. Or if you’d like, consider Jesus, who taught His disciples how to pray to God as our Father who loves us (Matthew 6:9-13).

God won’t necessarily answer prayers in the way that we hope. He might not fix our problems, but He will walk alongside us. God does not give us whatever we want, but He loves us and listens to our prayers. He knows what we need before we even ask. God answers prayers in many different ways and showers us with His magnificent love so that, in turn, we can encourage and listen to others.

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Prayer is a Beautiful Source of Comfort. 

Prayer is essentially a conversation with God. Through faith, we have a personal relationship with God, and through prayer, we get to talk with Him. He speaks to us through the Bible, for example, and we get to respond.

At times, the only prayer we have the strength to whisper is, “God help me.” But that is enough. He listens to every single request we have.

I prayerfully depend on God for strength, peace, and wisdom. I prayerfully trust Him with all my hopes and fears. I prayerfully commit my family and community to His care. My prayer for you is that you will understand how much your Heavenly Father loves you and will listen to you anywhere at anytime. Prayer is a beautiful source of comfort.

I encourage you to pray to a loving, caring Father who promises to listen to what his children have to say. “We are privileged to know that he knows our needs before we ask Him. This is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use; what matters is the faith which lays hold on God and touches the heart of the Father who knew us long before we came to him” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).

Let us pray because God listens.

In Christ,

Helo

 

Firsts

Hi, It’s Helo (pronounced Halo) award winning author of “Halo Found Hope.” Thank you for taking time to visit this blog. My hope and prayer is that you and I can pray, find hope and walk together — with God.

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This is the first blog post I’ve ever written. God gives us many firsts. Our first step, first puzzle, first crush, first attempt at spreading our wings, first love, first home, first child, first graduation to attend, first loss… and the “firsts” keep coming.

“Some firsts bring us joy—others hurt. I’ve journeyed through my share of both. Likely, so have you.”

God blessed me with a good life: an amazing husband, three incredible children, a beautiful home, and two cute dogs. But I’ve also known my share of pain. God has walked with me through four miscarriages, the passing of my father-in-law, and my husband’s job loss, among other trials.

But I never took God’s love and provision for granted. Or so I thought.

Then He pulled me through a “first” that I never imagined. It was a rainy Friday afternoon when I first went to see my ENT about ringing in my ear. Tests revealed that I’d lost most of the hearing in my right ear. The doctor ordered an MRI to find the cause of my hearing loss.

After the MRI, I sat in the waiting room planning my weekend. It was stacking up to be fun, busy, and completely hectic.

A nurse called out, “Helo, it’s time for you to come back.”

I picked up my to-do list, hurried back to the room, planning that evening’s dinner in my head. I walked into the exam room to find that there were two doctors instead of one. Now, I was puzzled, “What’s the backup for?”

My doctor compassionately said, “Helo, sit down. This has nothing to do with your ear. You have a tumor the size of a golfball resting over the main artery in your brain. You have to go see a neurosurgeon on Monday.”

“Time froze. My to-do list dropped to the floor.”

Shock fertilizes fear. This “first” turned my world upside down and shattered me. I had no idea what to do, and then I heard God’s voice. He said, “Helo, I loved you first, love Me back. Trust Me.”

“God, I promise to love You first. I’m scared. Please wash away my doubt. Hold on tight, and don’t let go.” I’ve cried tears of joy and sorrow before. But this time was different. I’ve never sobbed so hard. That’s what shock does. My parents came. We hugged—and they brought me home.

My husband, Rich, bolted out of work to hold me. We were both shocked. He opened the front door, took me by the hand, brought me to a quiet place, held on to me tight and quietly said, “I love you, let’s pray.”

“In shock and disbelief, I whispered, “God, please make something beautiful out of this.” Little did I know then, as much as I do now, how vast His affections are.”

Within a week, I was looking back at my loved ones faces, as the surgical team wheeled me into the operating room. I stared back until I couldn’t see my family anymore. This first, frightened me to the core. I heard loud swishing and clicking as the transfer assistants moved me onto the operating table. I thought, “Wow, this place is noisy!”

I looked up at my neurosurgeon. For the first time, he looked different to me. That’s what surgical garb does. He whispered, “I am going to take care of you beautiful.”  — Likely because he had just shaved off half the hair from my head, the day before.

I replied, “Thanks.”  Then, I whispered, “I love you Rich, Lauren, Jordan and Austin.”

I love my family.

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My final whisper, “I love you, God.”  I closed my eyes. It was January. I didn’t wake up for weeks. Nor would I understand the harrowing journey our Father pulled me through, until several weeks later.

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“Miracles still happen. While intubated in the ICU, I motioned that I wanted to write something. It took me five minutes to write: “God is amazing.”

After that, God helped me endure five additional weeks of hospitalization, followed by twenty weeks of intensive rehabilitation. I learned how to walk, talk, eat, think, and function again. Relearning “firsts” isn’t easy.

Five years ago,  defying all medical odds, the Great Physician kept me alive. I found the One in whom hope is always found, and now I am passing it on.

Cherished child, He loves you. He will never leave you. Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there. He doesn’t need to be recognized by you, to be there for you. He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination if you let Him. I did, and that is how this “Halo” found hope.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk, and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV

God is my first love. Make Him yours.

Blessings,

Helo