Some Quick Thoughts on Fear

Fear is one of the most crippling things in life. It causes us to fall back in the face of opposition or danger.  It prevents us from taking advantage of great opportunities that could alter our lives for the good.  It leads us to play it safe when anything worth having involves some level of risk.

Too much of life is dominated by fear.  Fear to move. Fear to try. Fear to love. Fear to hope. Fear to risk.  Sure there is room for a healthy dose of “fear” that, hopefully, causes us to pause and assess the risk-reward ratio before we do something completely foolish, but what I’m talking about is that level of fear that prevents us from even such an assessment.

2 Timothy 1:7 teaches that God hasn’t given a spirit of fear, but love, power and a sound mind.  Each of these things take something very important: boldness.  It takes great boldness to love, to exercise power and to think straight, putting behind us stifling thoughts and irrationality that prevents us from truly living; from fulfilling all that God has for us.  In this verse, Paul tells us that those things are provisions from God.  They are gifts given to us through the Holy Spirit of God to those who are His.

In whatever form fear may try to creep into your life, remember this verse of promise from God that has become very special to me as I engage in battle with my own fears:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will hold on to you with my righteous hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

If this is true and we determine to take God at His Word, how could fear ever have any power over God’s Children?  Today is the day to conquer fear in your own life, once and for all, through the power of the Holy Spirit of God who has already defeated it!

Gloriously Inadequate

I was reading this morning in Jeremiah. The first part is the calling of the prophet and how he, sort of like Moses, says he can’t speak. Unlike Moses, though, Jeremiah claims that he is too young…just a youth. I love God’s response:

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8  Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

God’s like, “Boy, don’t talk back to me. If I call you, I’ll cover you.” What’s even cooler is God’s, uh, “pre-sponse”. Before Jeremiah had even made his argument about being young, God had already laid the foundation for discrediting that response. God started the call with this:

20131023-113734.jpg“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

So, right after that declaration from God, Jerry makes his claim about being too young. He missed that God had already said that Jeremiah was not a youth when he was called…he was a fetus! It’s like God was saying, “Son, you’re concerned that you are too young. You’re actually a whole lot older now than when I first called you. Don’t worry about age, I’ve got this.”

I’m at the age now where being too young isn’t so much the issue :-/ The problem is too often realizing inadequacies. I’m not ______________ enough. I’m too _______________. With every excuse, God has already dealt with it on the cross. That’s the glory of being inadequate…it leaves plenty of room for God to show off His infinite adequacy! That’s just the way He planned it. So run with it.

The reality is, there is NOTHING too bad that God’s mercy in Christ hasn’t already covered. His Spirit has already taken up the slack! Move with confidence. Speak with boldness. Love with abandon.

On Presidential Politics: The Aftermath

It was once told to me that if you have a pastor you don’t like, don’t waste time complaining.  Instead, pray for the one you have that he’ll become the one you want.  This will prevent you from dishonoring Christ, leaving too early or causing problems within the church.  I think that is very good advice.  I also think it applies to the President of the United States.  

If you don’t like the person elected, rather than engaging in UNPRODUCTIVE bad-mouthing, which only divides and brings shame to the name of Christ, spend that time PRODUCTIVELY praying for him to be the kind of president this country needs.  

Look, God is in the business of changing the hearts of man (and he’s changed some much more idealogical than the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!), so if you think this is the wrong man, then sincerely pray for him.  Every time you’re ready to say something negative or post something cynical, pray instead…at that moment!  

I think it has much less to do with the “man” in office.  God can do whatever He likes with whomever He wills.  Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”  So, engage in spiritual battle for the sake of us all and, if your prayers are in line with the will of God, it will be done.  That’s the only way America will be changed and the only way America will be blessed.

Mission…Impossible?

How often do we limit ourselves based on what think we can and cannot do?  “I can’t” is the rally cry of the weak.  Yet, Scripture says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis added) and that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” (Romans 8:37).  So, then, why can’t we?  What is it that we are being prevented from doing out of fear, which is not of God (2 Timothy 1:7), or doubt, which is a lack of faith in God?

Oswald Chambers, in his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, said:

We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our eduction or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God….When it is a question of God’s Almighty Spirit, never say, ‘I can’t.’ Never allow the limitation of your own natural ability to enter into the matter.  If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us.”

Is there something in us that cries out, “I can’t!”?  If so, it is one of two things:  Either I am not submitting to the lordship of Christ in my life, or I am not a child of God at all.  Either one can be devastating.

Eight-Foot Ceilings

I don’t have the resources.  I don’t have the money.  I don’t have the time.  I don’t have the talent.  I’m scared of what will happen if it fails.  I don’t know how people will react to it.

Man, am I used to hearing these sentences.  Who am I kidding…I’m used to saying these things.  We call them excuses; reasons not to__________ (you fill in the blank).  Reasons not to do what I have the potential to do; to do what needs to be done; to do what I’ve dreamt of doing; to do what God has called me to do.  They are different excuses, but all have the same result: regret.

fearWhat is the motivator?  Fear.  Always fear.  Some might call it reality, or level-headedness, or good management.  I call it fear.  It is that thing that paralyzes us, keeping us from doing what can be done…what ought to be done.  It doesn’t seem to matter that fear is not of God and “if God be for us, who can be against us.”  The reality is that we still become neutralized into mediocrity.  We still get relegated to the sidelines of complacency because we would rather play it safe and deal with the minimal results than risk losing it all…or achieving it all.

I’m working through Mark Batterson’s book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, with our men’s group on Tuesday mornings, and am challenged yet again to stop settling for all that the enemy wants for me.  Did you hear that?  Usually, Christians talk about all that God wants for us, but the reality, we usually settle for all the enemy wants for us.  See, if he can keep me so afraid that I never attempt God-sized goals, I’ll always fall short of what I was created for.  So, exactly what is a God-sized goal?  I guess it depends on how big God is to you.  To quote Batterson, God is the size of your biggest problem.

We’re about to celebrate Easter.  Actually, a more accurate statement would be to say that we’re about to observe Easter (after all, as the President told the Turkish people, “we don’t refer to ourselves as a ‘Christian nation,’ but a nation of citizens…”).  Well, true or not, many of us will be celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Jesus.  The question we must ask ourselves is whether we believe the same power that could give life back to Jesus can breathe life into the impossible in my life.  In your life.  Can God do the impossible?  If we believe that He can, can He do it in you?  How, then, do we get from the point of believing it in our head to acting on it everyday?  If we only believe it in our heads but it is not a reality in our lives, can we really say we believe it?  I mean, really, big deal!

If I believe that, I’m going to prayerfully be expecting the supernatural.  I’m going to begin attempting things that should not be able to happen.  hopeI’m going to begin to expect things that are not according to my limitations, but are based upon His limitless power and provision.  I’m going to begin asking Him to do things that I know are otherwise impossible.  It’s time to get past the platitudes!  I’m sick of hearing…of saying…how much God can do, but “I’m just not there yet.”  That’s a cop-out.  If God can, then God will do much more than I have seen Him do in me for His glory.

It’s long past time to stop expecting less than what we say we believe.  It’s unbecoming for one who says he’s put faith in an omnipotent God.  Maybe that’s the reason Newsweek has declared “The End of Christian America”.  Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten too caught up in an institutional religion and forsaken the real God who changes lives and makes an impact in not only us, but the world around us.  If that’s the case, then I hope that Christian America does die and can be replaced with people who want and expect an America where those who claim to know Jesus will look for Him to move within and through us; that we become the organism, rather than the organization (which is a terrible representation of who He is and what He does in a life anyway).  Now that’s the kind of America I want to live in.

May it start in me!

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