When You Fear People More Than God

As Christians brought up in the church, this particular young woman and her boyfriend struggled with their purity. Eventually, they found out they were pregnant and considered having an abortion. All kinds of thoughts brewed through their mind:

We know abortion is wrong, but it would be devastating if people in the church found out we were pregnant.

Getting pregnant out of wedlock is the worst sin imaginable.

People would never look or treat us the same again.

We can’t let anyone know we’ve been living in sin and having sex.

Other thoughts ran through their mind and they just couldn’t bare the thought of keeping their baby and the turmoil they would experience from others. They eventually made their decision and sadly ended the life of their innocent child.

This story isn’t a whole lot different than the real-life stories laced throughout Scripture that involve men and women who trusted and put their hope in people more than God. The Bible calls it the “fear of men.”

I’m going through a Bible study with my seminary wives small group on fear and anxiety and I thought these questions were very helpful when it comes to pinpointing what the fear of men might look like in our every day lives. The author of the study, Edwards Welch, asks:

  • Have you ever struggled with peer pressure?
  • Have you ever been overly concerned about your appearance?
  • Have you ever been tempted to get plastic surgery?
  • Do you find that your view of yourself fluctuates on the basis of your achievements or the opinions of others?
  • Do you show favoritism?
  • Do you ever say yes when you should say no?
  • Do your public actions look much better than your private thoughts and behaviors?
  • Have you ever had a difficult time loving someone because you didn’t feel loved by that person?
  • Do you ever struggle with jealousy?
  • Have you ever been scared to talk about Jesus with someone for fear that the person would think differently of you?

From time to time, I struggle with all those questions (some more than others) minus the plastic surgery one because well… that freaks me out.

The danger in fearing other people is that we allow them to control us. We make decisions based on what they think or say. We fear the consequence if we let them down. We put our hope and faith in them instead of what God thinks or would have us do. And it’s a bit of a “subtle” sin.

But thank goodness there is a solution to being obsessed with what other people think of us. And it comes in four beautiful letters:

L O V E

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18

Welch describes it like this: “God took all the initiative. He loved you while you were an enemy of his. He loves you now not because you are great, but because he is love. Such love is unwavering and secure. The Cross of Jesus- the ultimate evidence of God’s love- establishes it.”

God’s unconditional love is our motivation to trust in Him. He knows what is best. He is watching out for us. And he is guiding our path as he desires. And if we ever doubt him, we need only to fix our eyes on the cross that he died upon to remember His love.

When we look to Him, this world and what it “thinks” tends to fade away.

I personally know the young couple who had the abortion. For many years they dealt with guilt, shame, regret, depression, and major emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil. They eventually learned that the people in the church they’d feared were far from perfect too. They just looked good on the outside and were able to say the right words.

While this couple still naturally carries guilt and shame at times, they have accepted God’s forgiveness and love and have forgiven themselves. They are open about sharing their mistakes and they’re learning what it means to trust in God, rather than in men.

Fearing, Loving, and Reverencing God more than men.

How liberating and God-glorifying to live life in such a way.

Taking Time to Rest

I don’t feel like the word “rest” has been in my vocabulary for a long time since our precious little girl entered the world four months ago. Rest has been really hard to come by having a newborn and a toddler, but this week I have finally found some.

On Saturday, we flew from Dallas to Virginia Beach to vist my sister Stefanie so she could meet Rebekah for the first time. We’re also here during Jeremiah’s Spring Break from seminary. Flying with children is never easy, but once we got here and settled in on a routine, I have been so refreshed. There’s just something about getting away from what’s familar and from your own home and being in a completely different environment.

A lot of my rest also has to do with the help I’ve had. Even my five year old nephew is able to do small things and my sister and husband have cooked, cleaned, and been an extra hand. We’ve been able to get out at night and shop while the babies are down and have some “me” time. I’ve been able to spice up my wardrobe a little which I’m most excited about.

We have 3 days left of our vacation and I’m just trying to soak every minute up- especially with my sister and her family. My plan is to continue to not think too hard or do too much, but to rest, relax, and listen closely to what God might want to show me away from home.

Well, that’s all for now. Nothing too deep. Since the whole house is napping, I think it’s my turn to hit the couch.

Have you been able to take some kind of break away from the familiar so you can find rest?

New Header Design by Tekeme Studios

A few months ago, I had asked you for some feedback on this blog. Your comments were so helpful and encouraging. I was able to find more clarity and direction for what I write in this little space.

Along with your feedback, I was keeping a new header design in mind- a design that would reflect what this blog is about. About a year ago, I heard about Tekeme Studios through a tweet by author Mary DeMuth. I saw samples of their work and was so impressed by their creativity. This past December, I contacted them and began the process of creating a brand new header.

Husband and wife duo, George and Ashley Weis, worked with me to design the header and had me fill out a detailed questionnaire about my passions, what this blog is about, the look and feel I wanted to create, my preferred color schemes and more. I wanted a look that represented growth, life, and faith. I wanted the feel to be warm, inviting, and calm.

A few weeks ago, George (the designer) finished the header. I think he hit the nail on the head and I’m really happy with the end result. If you want a new design for your blog or website, I highly recommend checking out Tekeme Studios and looking into the services they offer.

can I have your feedback?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to look like in 2011. Since I started blogging three years ago, I’ve written whatever is on my heart regarding faith, marriage, motherhood, authenticity, missional living, writing, and more. I’ve posted about once a week and sometimes twice a week.

But I’m ready to have more clarity on what this blog is truly about. I’d like it so that when you come here, you’ll know that each post will reveal that focus (in some way, shape, or form!). Maybe it already does, but I’m just not sure.

I have some ideas on the focus I’d like to take, but I would love your thoughts in this process- whether you’ve been reading for several years, a few months, or maybe weeks. Please keep these questions in mind, but don’t worry about answering them word for word:

What makes you want to stop by and read?

How would you describe this blog?

What have been some of your favorite posts?

What topics do you like to read about?

Are there any topics you’d like to see more of?

What kind of stories do you like to read about?

In what ways have you been challenged and encouraged?

Do you see this blog as a place for online community?

If you’d rather send an email, you can write me at: samantha [AT] samanthakrieger [dot] [com]

Thank you in advance for helping me find some clarity!

Thoughts on Jennifer Knapp’s Interview

There has been a lot going on in my heart since I read Christianity Today’s interview with Jennifer Knapp. I have felt sadness, compassion, anger, confusion, and disappointment. One thing that I can’t escape thinking about is a question that Matt Chandler asks in a lot of his interviews and sermons: “Where is the fight against sin?”

I think we often forget that we’re in a battle against our own flesh. Not just the world and culture, but the sinful lusts and desires that rage within us. Francis Chan has also spoken lately about the “middle road” that so many Christians have created, neglecting to follow the narrow road of Christ… “If I can just follow some of Jesus’ words, then I can do whatever else I want…”

As followers who love the Lord, we’re called to follow even the HARD words of Jesus like denying self and getting rid of the sin and filth within us (James 1:21). We can’t lie and say that his words are easy, and we don’t have the right to pick and choose what we want to follow.

Will we struggle with sin? As long as we’re breathing we will, but our desire won’t be to live in that sin as a continuing lifestyle void of confession, repentance, or “struggling well.”

There is so much to Jennifer’s story than I will ever know or need to know, but from what I do know that I did not see in her interview with Christianity Today, is a fight against that sin. There was an acceptance of it. And that makes me sad. I want to see her make war with it.

So I guess my next response in all this is to look in the mirror and make sure I’m really engaged in the daily battle against my flesh.

Did you read the article? What are your thoughts on the recent news?

Starting Celebrate Recovery

My pastor Todd speaks regularly from the stage about how the healthiest people in our church body are those who’ve gone through Celebrate Recovery and have dealt with their “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” in light of Scripture.

I’ve held back from going to CR for a long time because I didn’t struggle with alcohol addiction or drugs or anything like that. I struggled with other “minor” things you know and I didn’t need a silly program to help me out. God and his Word could help me fine.

Well last Monday, after a long three months of my husband and I deciding to commit, we went to our first meeting. The first part of the night included corporate worship, a personal testimony of someone who’s gone through the 12-18 month program, and a separate introduction for newcomers. One guy on stage introduced himself and said, “I’m a believer in Christ who struggles with pornography.”

My eyes grew wide and I looked at Jeremiah, whispering, “That was really awkward.”

The guy went on to share more about the program.

It was rare to see people so open about their struggles publicly in a safe environment, but I knew God had taken them through a process- the process I was there for.

When it was time to go to our open group consisting of about 15 or so women (they split up men and women), we went around in the circle of complete strangers and shared what we think we struggle with. I was nervous, but when some of the women began to share I realized that none of us were alone. I couldn’t believe some of the stories I was hearing. Then it was my turn. I got a little teary eyed and pushed these words out:

“I don’t want to be here. It’s my pride. But I’m a believer in Christ who struggles at times with anxiety, anger, and control.”

To my surprise, after I confessed those struggles I felt like a balloon that had been popped with a needle! There was such relief and I was one step closer to freedom.

Reflecting on my time that night, I realized that my thinking was so evil and carnal regarding the “bigger” sins. Who was I to think that my sins were less damaging? Or that I was “above” CR? The hard truth is that we all struggle with something and sin is sin no matter what. Perhaps the reason we are Christians is because we don’t have it all together. We must depend on God alone.

I admit, I still have pride in my heart that God is working on and I know it’s going to be a humbling process. I didn’t even want to write this post or really let you know that I’m going through the program. I fought hard at telling you the truth.

But I want to be as authentic as I can with you about my faith and where I’m at.

Well, I probably won’t always write official posts about what’s going on in my life through CR but I’m sure you’ll see glimpses of what I’m learning through my writing. And I hope that whatever God decides to teach me that it will encourage you in your struggles.

Tonight is my second week (taking a deep breath). Maybe it won’t feel as awkward?! Hmm. Probably. not. Yet. We’ll see.

Top 20 Posts for 2009

I wanted to take the time and list the top 20 posts for 2009. Excited for what God has in store for all of us in 2010. Happy New Year!

1. Michael Jackson’s Dash

2. Who He is- what i’m not

3. No, Mr. President: John Piper’s Response

4. Running for Sunrise

5. Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

6. I am Second

7. Marriage: Built to Last

8. A Passion for Marriage

9. Marriage: Built to Last # 2

10. Why I’ll never be a member of ashleymadi

11. To Twitter, or Not to Twitter?

12. Are you a trader?

13. Giving Respect

14. Fighting Complacency

15. What stirs your affections?

16. Truth on a Starbucks Sleeve

17. RightNow Conference Highlights

18. Have you thought about Self-Publishing?

19. Marriage: why it’s hard work

20. Give Me Prudence


Blogging Break for 12 days

Hi Friends,

I’ll be taking a little break from blogging while I’m away on a much needed vacation. I’m so thankful for each of you this Christmas. Thank you for reading and interacting on my blog. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a little bit about you in the past few months.

I’ll be back it at it, Lord willing, around the 2nd week of January. If you need to reach me or just want to say hello, feel free to email.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday spending time with those you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In Christ alone,

Samantha

Video: Bethany Allen- Outrunning Breast Cancer

Just a few years ago one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ll never forget the day she called me telling me the news. I remember sobbing with her on the phone and doing all I could to lift everything up in prayer with her. She told me on the phone that she was still going to run her marathon she’d been training for. It was only in a few weeks at Disney World.

I booked a flight and headed to Florida to surprise her. I’ll never forget her face! I watched her finish her race strong, and not only that but finish her last year of law school while enduring multiple surgeries, taking shots every day, and battling the pain of chemotherapy and radiation.

Last year, I asked Bethany if she would share her story for an upcoming series we were working on that dealt with prayer. The series is called The Sacred Echo with author and speaker Margaret Feinberg. When Bethany flew out for my baby shower last Septermber, in one tightly packed weekend, our team at Bluefish shot her story.

The link to Bethany’s story is here. I hope it encourages you in whatever trials you’re facing today and that ultimately you’ll put your hope, faith, and trust in God alone.

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