Hi!

15 May

Fearless is a blog dedicated to the truth that God has told us over and over again in His Word:  FEAR NOT.  We have been created to walk fearlessly secure in an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ.  The question is…how???

How do we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior and shrink in the areas of fear and insecurity in our lives?  The answer is simple–and difficult:  We look into the Word of God, receive it, and apply it in our lives through dependence on God.  Please join me on this adventure trek through the Word of God!

–Susan Jean Stevens

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Deep Calling Unto Deep

6 Oct

Mike and I live across the street from the Atlantic Ocean (I just love saying that!) and one thing that amazes us is how different it is every time we see it. You can always sense God’s mighty power in it, but usually, it is a subtle power. Yesterday, we saw the results of the hurricanes and tropical storms that have passed through. The normal sea greens, turquoise blues, and blue-greys had been replaced by sable browns and blacks because God had stirred up the deeps of the ocean. It was ugly, just as the sins in our lives are ugly.

Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all deep places. Psalm 135:6

 

I’ve been thinking much about the storms in life and how hurricane Matthew last year and hurricane Irma this year are physical examples of the storms we experience in life: death, illness, relationship issues, financial troubles, emotional issues. In the same way that hurricanes churn up the depths of the ocean, storms in our lives churn up the depths in us.

He revealeth the deep and secret things; He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him. Daniel 2:22

Because God is merciful and loving, He wants to reveal what is in the darkness, what is buried in the depths, so it can be dealt with and we become more like Him in the process.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me [Due to a storm in life?]; therefore will I remember Thee from the land of Jordan and of the Hermonites, from the hill of Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy waterspouts; all Thy waves and Thy billows have gone over me. Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:6-8

As the ugly things are revealed, the proper response is repentance proceeding from a humble teachability and dependence upon God–even with issues of character. Here is a link to a video of the churned up ocean.

Teaching Slides from Carlisle, Pennsylvania Women’s Retreat

24 Sep

I recently enjoyed a very blessed weekend at the Carlisle Women’s Retreat in Pennsylvania. I was asked to post the slides from the teaching I did on The Exchanged Life, and so here they are. Just click on this link.

Metacognition Links

24 Sep

I’m noticing more and more links between what I am teaching teachers and my Christian beliefs and practices. For example, not this visual that I made for teachers:

Think how helpful metacognitive thinking is for a Christian:

  • Am I listening to the enemy’s whispers?
  • Am I thinking with God?
  • Am I thinking on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of any virtue, and of any praise? (Philippians 4:8)

Obviously, the response called for if we give a “yes” to the first question or a “no” to the next two questions is to change our thinking until it is aligned with God’s mind.

If we can begin practicing metacognitive thinking in our Christian lives, it will not only make our thinking better, but our lives better.

Hebrew Word Studies from The Living Word in 3D

14 Aug

I’ve been studying through Isaiah and in my search for resources came across this source that explains Hebrew words using a sketchboard approach. I find it fascinating. I hope you enjoy this study on the word “grace” as much as I did.

Isaiah & Wordles

12 Aug

You may know that Isaiah is considered to be somewhat of a mini-Bible. The first 39 chapters correlate with the 39 books in the Old Testament and the last 27 chapters correlate with the 27 books of the New Testament. I find things like this fascinating, and as I am studying through the book of Isaiah Hebrew word by Hebrew word, I decided to run the English words through Wordle.

isaiah chart

Wordle is an app that creates art from words, but art that is based on fact:  The more repetitions of a word, the larger Wordle makes it, which makes it an interesting tool with which to analyze literature.

Here is the Wordle of Isaiah chapters 1-39:

wordle 3

Here is the Wordle of Isaiah chapters 40 – 66.

wordle4066

What questions does this bring to mind? What does it make you wonder? I know that as I’ve been studying Isaiah, the beautiful thing is how much hope there is, even in the chapters that speak condemnation.

Growth or Fixed Mindset: Should I Forgive?

31 Jul

I’ve been studying a lot about fixed mindset and growth mindset for the educational coaching that I do.  Fixed mindset says that you are born with a certain intelligence and certain abilities. Growth mindset says that your intelligence and abilities can be grown with effort. The growth mindset is based on scientific findings of how much the brain can grow–in any area–with effort.

As a teacher, I believe in growth mindset. I can’t tell you how many times as an art teacher I’ve been frustrated by people saying, “I can’t draw.” “Just give me six weeks,” I beg, “You may not be Da Vinci, but I can teach you to draw.”

As a person, I have limited myself in other areas. (I’m not athletic. I’m not a math person, etc.)  If you want to learn more about these mindsets, here’s a 2-minute video by John Spencer. If you want to dig a little deeper, here’s an 8-minute video by Train Ugly. Here is a quick quiz to check your mindset.

According to Carol Dweck’s book, mindset: The New Psychology of Success, we even use mindsets in our relationships:

In a relationship, the Fixed Mindset wants revenge, wants their spouse/friend to pay penance, expects their spouse/friend to be able to meet their needs by “reading” their minds, their ideal relationship is one of (total) compatibility, and they believe that problems in the relationship indicate character flaws. One can have a fixed mindset in three areas: “You can believe your qualities are fixed, your partner’s qualities are fixed, and/or the relationship’s qualities are fixed.”

In a relationship, the Growth Mindset wants to understand, forgive, and move on.

My point here is not learning how to draw or do math but the fact that I believe God wants us to have a growth mindset.

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. Romans 12:2Amplified Bible (AMP)

Spiritual maturity is all about learning not only to forgive but to live in a state of forgiveness where we forgive, as Jesus did on the cross, without being asked for forgiveness. I believe this is a life-long process of learning that we can aspire to if we have a growth mindset. I’m am not saying it’s easy; just important.

12 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; 13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. 14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. Colossians 3: 12-14 (AMP)

The Tyranny of Unforgiveness

3 Jun

But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 Amplified

I don’t really want to get into the last part of this verse, but lets take a long look at the “If” portion. If I understand the tense it is written in (Second Aorist, Active, Subjunctive) it means that we are to forgive when and if we have occasion to forgive–in other words when there is an offense against us.

Forgiveness means to cut off, to send away, to set free, to cancel a debt. Forgiveness does not mean that you are disregarding sin and doing nothing about it, but you are liberating a person from them, their guilt, and their power (Zodhiates). Normally we think about forgiveness like this in terms of God forgiving us. But it seems we have two choices here: 1) We can nurture our hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, or 2) We can forgive and let it go.

Nurturing implies paying attention to something, caring for it, and feeding it. This means that you are often pulling your list(s) of offenses off the shelf and meditating on them instead of meditating on God’s will or God’s Word. I would much rather cut the gum-like offense off of me and free myself from its tyranny over me and my spiritual and emotional well-being. We are never more like God than when we forgive.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But it is God’s way. When I was a new Christian I soon learned about forgiveness, but did not understand HOW to forgive. I read books and looked for ways to forgive a certain individual in my life. I remember reading about someone who wrote down all the offenses that someone had made against her and then burned them.  I thought, “If it worked for her, it can work for me.” I grabbed a notebook and began writing page after page of offenses.  (Doesn’t this sound more like nurturing than cutting off?) After I burned it, I kept thinking of other offenses to add to the list. I would have had to maintain a perpetual fire to deal with it. *chuckle* It interfered with my relationship with a forgiving God.

I honestly believed in forgive and forget, but I couldn’t forget, and that’s because I didn’t understand my enemy.

I learned that forgiveness is a decision of our will. We simply make a decision to forgive.  Now the enemy–or all three enemies, the flesh, the world, and the devil–will try to convince us to nurture the offense and that we are right to do so. The battle that follows the decision to forgive is in our minds. We need to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If nothing else helps us to forgive, this will: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19