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Cultivate Truth

Cultivate Truth

Fear- Such a Small Word

Whenever I say, think or hear the word ‘fear,’ I can’t help but to follow it up with the words ‘power,’ ‘love’ and ‘sound-mind.’ What’s more, when I speak them aloud, they are magnified. This was not always my way of thinking. Fear had great control in my life for many years. During my early to mid-twenties, I battled with anxiety disorder. For those who have never experienced an anxiety attack, it’s like a great, all-consuming nothing that creeps up out of nowhere. One minute a person can feel perfectly normal, the next minute it’s as if a heavy blanket of dread falls over your entire body and drains you of all hope and safety. It’s difficult to be rational during an attack. Sometimes it feels as if the walls around you are about to cave in. You feel like you are about to die. Once an attack occurs, you feel like there is no way to stop it. It seems the only solution is to helplessly submit to the attack and let it run its course. When it is over, it slips away as silently as it came, leaving the body and mind feeling exhausted, vulnerable, violated and defeated. To add to the struggle, anxiety attacks can give way to other issues such as fear, stress or depression, if a person struggles with it long enough. It’s like a downward spiral that feels impossible to overcome.

Eventually, I became fearful of everything. I was afraid of the day, and afraid of the night. I couldn’t escape it. I was held captive by my own thoughts. At night when I experienced the attacks, I would literally fall to the floor, tremble and cry. I didn’t know what to do. Sometimes the attacks would come one right after the other- up to four times a night. I lost a tremendous amount of weight because I wasn’t able to eat or sleep. I became desperate and helpless. I felt I had no one to turn to.

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and save them.” Psalm 145: 18-19

Now, Back-track three months before the anxiety attacks…

“Where are you?” I said angrily as I sat in my car, staring out the windshield, tears rolling down my cheeks. I slammed my hands on the steering wheel and screamed at the top of my lungs, “I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH!” I had lived the past three years of my life angry with God. I was angry and jealous because of his love for those who did not deserve it. People who hurt me in the past were being changed by his grace.  “HOW CAN YOU LOVE THEM WHEN I WAS THE ONE WHO CALLED OUT TO YOU?” I yelled as I cried uncontrollably. I was harboring so much unforgiveness in my heart. I became prideful, selfish and felt wronged. I was also angry because I wanted to know who God really was. Why I couldn’t hear him? Why didn’t he love me? Why wasn’t he there for me when I needed him?  Why did he abandon me? I rested my head on my steering wheel, closed my eyes and wept. Then, by no influence of my own, two words clearly resonated in my mind, “Trust Me.”

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. “ James 4:7-8

Now, fast-track three months later…Night after night the attacks would come, and night after night I would fall to the ground, weak and defeated. I eventually confided in a friend about the anxiety attacks and shared with her the words God spoke to me that day in the car. She advised me to read my Bible and to pray. She also invited me to her Bible study group that met weekly at her house.

We prayed for each other, laughed, cried together and carried each other’s burdens. That Bible study became my community. I developed friendships with people who demonstrated a Christ-like love for me despite my pride and brokenness. I was learning about God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. I even started praying for those who had hurt me in the past. I became born again and had a newfound love.  During this time I asked God to sift my thoughts and reveal to me the things I needed to repent. I didn’t want to hold on to anything that was keeping me from him. He revealed to me my sins, my offenses and the things I had suppressed deep inside my heart. Reading the Bible taught me a lot about God, his character and his promises. It also taught me about my enemy- the devil. The anxiety attacks still came, and when they did I continued to fall to the floor; however, I no longer fell in submission to the attack, but instead I would fall to demonstrate my submission to the one who saved me, Jesus. I would cry out and pray, “Lord, your Word says…”, and I would remind him of his promises in the Bible. I did not know it at the time, but by speaking His word aloud, through faith, I was proclaiming his word in my life. I was holding all who were present (spirit, human and myself) accountable to the power of God. This was the work God was doing in me—he was training his daughter to become a warrior.  During an anxiety attack, I learned to fix my thoughts on the Lord and praise Him through it. I learned to fight against the enemy by refusing his oppression in my life and boldly speaking out God’s Word. I became a threat to the enemy’s tactics by not only praying for myself during my battle, but praying for others as well.  

For the first time, I was able to stand before my enemy confident in God’s power, strength and peace.  I was armed with a sword and I was now trained to use it.

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8

The enemy plotted for my life.  He wanted to keep me unaware of the blessings God had for me.  He wanted me confined to a life of fear, immobile and ineffective.  He also wanted me to believe that I had anxiety.  God’s word says something different.  The Bible says, “God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, and of love and a sound mind”(2 Tim. 1:7).  This scripture also tells me that the spirit of fear and anxiety is very real, but it is not of God. It is of the enemy.  Ephesians. 6:12 says, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Much like the temptation of Christ during His 40 day fast, we too are approached, tempted and lied to by the enemy.  We are defenseless if we do not know the word and how to combat the enemy during a time of temptation. If we do not know the power of standing in our salvation, our minds can become vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.  Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  

I am more certain now of my salvation and the power of God’s word in my life than ever before.  I have peace and I am free from my struggles with anxiety and fear. I know the enemy may be watching from a distance, waiting for an opportunity to attack. However, I trust that wherever I go, God is near. His word is not far from me and I take comfort knowing that.

“Blessed be the Lord my rock, who trains my hand for war, and my fingers for battle- my lovingkindness and fortress, My high tower and my deliverer, My shield and the one in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:1-2

For all who struggle with anxiety and feel subjected to living a life of fear, I pray that you will come to learn the power and truth of God’s word, so you will be oppressed no more. I encourage you to read your Bible, reach out to people in your church community and trust that God loves you. He has a purpose for your life that is so much greater than you can ever imagine.

Trust him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14


Cultivate Truth

Forsaking Formulas

Forsaking Formulas

I really suck at math. My 6th grade son’s math homework makes my brain explode. It took me my freshman and sophomore year to complete Algebra 1. It just doesn’t register with me. I remember my algebra teacher helping me in those after school tutoring sessions and him saying to me, “Melody, if you can just remember the formulas, you will make it. The formulas always work.” And that is how I passed Algebra 1 in only two years with a solid C, remembering the formulas. Cheers please.

Formulas are great. We use them all the time – recipes, diets, budgets, etc. We like plans. We don’t like problems and we are eager to tackle them with ready-made solutions. And we never lack for solutions. Regardless of our ailment, struggle, sickness or situation, there is usually a remedy and we run to it. Why wouldn’t we? If something hurts, make it stop. If something is wrong, make it right. If life isn’t going the way we planned, let’s figure it out, find a formula for our “problem” and work it until we have the desired results.

Here’s the issue: If you have lived longer than a minute, then you already know that life hands us a lot of problems that aren’t fixable. We can’t just google what to do next and be rid of our angst, worry, addiction, depression, diagnosis, distress, you fill in the blank. And here’s the even bigger issue: Christians have bought into this formula driven life. Our bookstores and bumpers are full of quippy little statements that subtly imply – “if you do this, God will do this.” And because we want that to be true so badly, we scour the bible for those promises and we plaster them on our Facebook walls and our t-shirts. We shout from the mountain tops that “GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD,” and we share that in our small groups when the couple sitting across from us tells us their marriage is falling apart, or that they are on the brink of financial ruin. We grab their hands and we say, “let’s pray Jeremiah 29:11 over that situation because we all know that God has plans for you to prosper and have great success…”


Sometimes the cancer does come back and sometimes the prodigal child doesn’t return home. Sometimes the cheating husband does marry the other woman. Sometimes the depression just won’t go away. Sometimes the house does go into foreclosure. Sometimes life just falls apart.  And there is no formula to fix it. Then what?

Here’s another promise from Jesus himself that we don’t see on bumpers that often:

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…”

That probably won’t sell a lot of t-shirts or get a lot of likes on Facebook. But thank God, He keeps going.

“…But take heart (be courageous, be undaunted, be filled with joy) because I have overcome the world.”

In those last 5 words we find the answer, the true hope for any situation and what we can cling to when life beats us down: I have overcome the world. Jesus is literally saying that He has conquered everything in this world and has victory over every single thing that happens inside of it. The cancer, the lost job, the wayward child, the anxiety, the desperation, the insecurities, the fear, the death of your beloved…He is not defeated by any of it. He is more powerful than all of it. None of those things can conquer Him. Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, that’s great for Him, but where does that leave us?” It leaves us right where we need to be.

Forsaking formulas. Throwing them out and throwing ourselves at His feet. Understanding that He is the prize. That His presence will always be better and more satisfying than His presents. Life is really going to suck sometimes. It is going to be really, really, really hard. But He makes us another promise:

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

No formulas. No strings attached. No gimmicks. Just Him…

And my prayer for myself and for all of you is that we will come to the place where we truly believe that He is enough.



Cultivate Truth

I Was Adopted

Adoption is not easy.

Adoption only exists because of trauma. A child is only available for adoption because the family unit that was supposed to care for them, didn’t. Or couldn’t. Adoption is messy. It is the choice to enter into someone else’s pain.

Adoption is complicated. Not only is the legal process a challenge, but once placed in a home, a child’s brain connections that did not form properly literally need to be re-wired.

We were not planning to adopt a 7 year old. We had been waiting for 4 years to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. A baby. 3 years old. Tops. Then God brought a young boy to California and placed him in our path. He needed a home. We wanted a child. But this was not what we were expecting.

In the week when my husband and I were praying about whether or not to take this boy, I was afraid. I kept thinking, “Seven? Seven years old means He remembers life in a different culture, with different food and a different language. He remembers the biological parents he lost. He knows hurt and transition and instability… more than any kid should know. This kid has a lot of baggage.” And I wondered if I was strong enough to handle baggage like this.

And then God reminded me: He did not weigh my baggage before adopting me into His family.

You see, I was born estranged from Christ. I was born with a sinful nature that made me a liar, a cheater, a manipulator and a thief… to my very core.  Isaiah 59: 2 says that “my sins cut me off from God.” Aside the fact that I was born a Gentile (a non-Jew), the essence of my very being created a chasm between me and God. I was not part of His family.

And yet… He brought me in. He took the tantrums, the rages, the manipulation – and He made me His daughter. My identity is no longer that of a spiritual orphan. I have a Father. A Daddy who, not only did not count the weight of my baggage against me, He didn’t even consider it. Even better, I am not still being adopted. I WAS adopted. It is over. Finished. My adoption is finalized. I have new name, a new identity, I am a daughter of the Great King, an heir and co-heir to His kingdom.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”  – Romans 8:15-17

Physical adoption mirrors our spiritual adoption in Christ. Adoption was the method by which our son came to be part of our family and although it is his story, it is not his identity. He is not still being adopted. He WAS adopted and now he is grafted into our family. Yes, we remember life before he received his new identity. Yes, we have years of healing ahead of us. But… his adoption is done. He is a Boganwright.

Adoption is worth it. Without it, I would not understand the gravity of what God did to bring me home. Without entering into the world of physical adoption, I would never have received this glimpse into the mystery of God’s redemptive power – how He can take something so broken and bring so much healing.

My adoption is finished. I needed healing and God gave it. I don’t have to live as a slave to my fear or my sin. I am a child of God.

Just as my son was chosen, so was I.
My Father has brought me home.


Rebecca Boganwright