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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Fear

I was thinking today about fear. It’s one of those ubiquitous things about being human. We all experience it at one time or another. Different people, different fears. Fear of heights, fear of flying, claustrophobia, the fear of public speaking is even listed as the number one fear for more people than any other, even more than the fear of dying. So what is fear and why is it so pervasive?

If you trace it back to it’s very root, here come the flames, it’s a sin. Gasp! Ok, give me a minute to explain. The bible says over and over, do not be afraid, do not fear. What’s wrong with fear? It’s a “normal” human emotion right? Fear is a lack of faith in the goodness of God…and without faith, it is impossible to please him. I’m not talking about that momentary fearful thought when someone sticks a gun in your face, or the doctor says “it’s cancer.” I’m talking about the kind that sets in, takes root, and runs your life. If fear stops you from doing something that you know you should do, that is a sin. If fear makes you do something that you know you should not, that is a sin.

Fear and pride are the 2 little roots behind almost every sin. We fear what someone will think of us if we tell the truth, so we lie. We think we deserve a better grade, spouse, raise etc. (pride) so we cheat. We fear that God will not provide for us so we steal. The teenager thinks he knows better than his parents what is good for himself, so he doesn’t follow their rules (pride). The murderer believes his own desires are more important than the other person’s very life. etc. etc. etc.

Then there is fear’s twin sister, worry, anxiety. We worry by letting fear take root. One fearful thought leads to another and before we know it we are mired in depression, panic attacks etc. I’ve known people afraid to step outside their own front doors, or those who so fear that their spouse will not be faithful, that they choke the life out of their relationship by their constant grasping and manipulation. That kind of fear is a spiritual battle. Thankfully God has given us weapons to fight with and protective gear to guard ourselves with, if we will use them.

First, we have to recognize that we have an enemy. I Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Do not disbelieve it for a minute. Many people would like to tell you the devil doesn’t exist. If he can get you to believe that, his work is half done, because you don’t fight enemies you don’t believe in. We don’t need to fall into the ditch on the other side of the road and look for demons behind every bush. Not every bad thing that happens is because Satan came against you. James 1:14-15 says “14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. ” Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

Second, we have to have Jesus as our Lord and savior. He’s our helmet of salvation. Without it we are sunk. We can fight all we want, but it’s a losing battle without the Lord on our side. Maybe I should have reversed these 2, but I think recognizing that we need Jesus comes before reaching out to him.

Third, we have to recognize our negative thoughts and stop them, then replace them with positive ones. Philipians 4 is probably the biggest help here. 4:6-8 “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 2 Corinthians 10:5b says “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I once heard a teacher speak on this. He said if you want to beat a lie detector test you have to concentrate on something besides that thing you want hidden. Repeat over and over “pink elephants” or something like that. It is nearly impossible to think of 2 different things at once. So you can’t just empty your mind of negative thoughts, don’t even get me started on that whole contemplative prayer thing, you have to replace them with positive ones. Now some people would tell you any old positive thought will do. Not so. The word of God is our only offensive weapon, we have to learn to use it.

Here is something I did when I was struggling with continual fear. I got a set of spiral bound 3×5 cards and called it my “Truth Journal” I found scriptures that corresponded to the lies I was believing that led me to fearful thoughts. You know lies like, you’re not good enough, God doesn’t care about you, He’s not watching you etc. Then I wrote the truth about God from His word on those cards. Things like Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Psalm 139, the whole thing, I am fearfully and wonderfully made etc. Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Jeremiah 29:11 “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. ” When you start to have a fearful thought say something like “I take this thought captive in the name of Jesus” then replace it with one of your truth verses. Say it out loud, the spoken word of God is powerful. Think it over and over in your mind.

At first this will be difficult. Remember this is a battle! Satan is out there swinging his sword, swing yours back with all you’ve got. Pull up your shield of Faith, which… hmmm… comes by hearing the Word. Put on your belt of truth (which you learn by reading the Word). Hmmm (I’m seeing a pattern here.) And on your feet the Gospel of Peace. Peace you have when you take your anxious thoughts to God, and with thanksgiving for His mercy and provision, give them to Him. It will get easier with time. Just like a soldier trains for battle by taking up his gear and going on long hikes, spending hours practicing with his weapon etc. You must train. This Christian walk ain’t no skipping through the park on rose petals. It’s a battle from beginning to end. But the rewards are worth it.

Update: By the way. I’m casting no stones here, or claiming to be perfect. I still struggle, just not as often as I used to with this particular thing. My battles are mostly…I say mostly, elsewhere these days. I also understand that there is a physical component to “panic attacks” that sometimes has a root in chemical imbalances etc. Sometimes you need professional physician help. Sometimes a good Christian counselor can help you cooperate with God to bring peace in your life. I’ve gone to ministers in the church for counseling. It’s very helpful. Just beware the current “pop psychology gurus” and go to “the Great Physician” primarily. He made you. He understands you. And only He knows every little thought in your mind, every secret thing you have done or was done to you. God bless you all.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Heads or Tails

Deut. 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

I’m whining tonight. “Lord I’m tired of being the tail, instead of the head.” When it hits me like a ton of bricks. Who am I to complain about where I am in the body? Jesus is the true head. Not me. The “flesh me” longs for more honor, or at least more money. But there’s a part of me, my spirit woman, that says “Lord, you’re the potter, I’m the clay. Make me whatever you want. If you want to make me the eye, or the ear, or the pinkie toe, or that world-domination eyebrow hair that won’t stay in place and everyone who looks at it thinks man, ever hear of scissors; and yes even the tail, then that is your prerogative. You’re God, not me. Make me whatever works in your grand plan.”

It is a constant wrestling match between spirit woman and the 600 lb. sumo “flesh woman” wrestler. Some days spirit woman wins hands down, some days she wins only after a long match, and other days she’s defeated, ready to give up. This year of unemployment and illness has certainly drawn me to God like the deer panting for water. I don’t want to give that up. I want to keep following hard after God. If I must remain in lowly circumstances, everyone else’s missions project, so that I can keep this fire and passion for God…then so be it. I don’t want to get so comfortable that I forget God. So comfortable that I can go through my day without giving Him a second thought.

Of course I would rather have the easy life and still be passionate for Jesus. That would be way more fun. But only God knows if I can handle a life of ease. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Who then can enter? The meek, the lowly, the one who relies on God for his daily bread. You can learn to live that way when you are rich…but it’s far easier when you are not. So I guess I really do have the easy life. 😉

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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God’s Voice and God’s Power

I’ve been praying for years…and years, that I would be able to discern God’s voice, that I would be able to hear “this is the way, walk ye in it.” I never felt able to do that until these last few months, when I have learned to cling to God. Those that seek, find. Earnestly seek, not just a mental assent, sort of “yeah that would be nice.” But a total, all-out hunger for His voice. I’m finding that I hear His voice in the strangest times and strangest ways. Rarely when I’m actually praying about a problem, but later when I’m going thru something maybe completely unrelated, I have that a-ha moment. This is the answer to that prayer.

You have to tune your ears, just like finding the right radio station. You have to have your spiritual antenna up, scanning the stations by looking for the answers. How many times have I thought God didn’t answer my prayers, when really I just wasn’t looking in the right places, I wasn’t expecting to hear a reply. I’ve had to spend more time in the Word, more time in prayer, lots more time in meditating on the Word. Less time complaining, less time in entertainment, and waaaaay more time doing. We can’t fool ourselves by being hearers of the Word only, we must do what we know to do. God doesn’t need to give us light for the next step until we take the first one.

In a recent sermon I heard, the pastor talked about how Jesus died to save us from the penalty of death. Most of us have heard that part frequently, His blood covers our sins and we go to heaven not hell. Praise the Lord. But he reminded us it’s so much more than that. He came to break the power of sin over us, to set us free from the bondage of slavery to sin. He came so that we don’t have to say “Well that’s just me. I can’t help it.” Oh glory! I can change! I don’t have to be bound by bad habits or responses, bad attitudes, addictions, poor personality traits. I can be full of joy, patience, gentleness, and self-control by the power of the Holy Spirit! When you really grab a hold of that it will change your life. No temptation has overtaken you that you can not overcome with the power that Jesus death and resurrection bought for you. You can be free!

Thank you Lord Jesus, that you bought for me not just salvation, though that is a magnificent gift. Your grace is so much more. It’s the power to have abundant, victorious life, if I will abide in you. Help me take hold of that truth and that power and use it to transform my life and the lives of those around me. Make me more like you every day. Help me tune my ears to your voice and not listen to any other. I am longing for your return, when I shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but instead see you face to face. Maranatha! Amen.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Lessons from Hachi

I caught the last half of the movie “Hachi” this afternoon. “The Engineer” had gotten it for Christmas and this was the 1st time the kids had watched it. What a great movie! Mini-me walked in from school in time to see the last 10 minutes and cried just over that much. If you’ve never seen it I hope this won’t spoil anything for you. A man finds a puppy and despite his family’s objections keeps him. They forge a unique friendship. The dog can hardly stand to be apart from his master. Everyday he walks his master to the train station, goes home, and returns at 5 o’clock to walk him back home from work.

One day the master has a heart attack and dies while teaching and he never comes home. The grown daughter of the man tries to take in the dog, but the dog can not forget his master and returns day after day to the train station to wait for him. Week after week, month after month, year after year, he waits. He becomes something of a celebrity and people send money to the train station for his care. One day, the dog sensing his own death approaching, goes to his regular spot one last time, lies down and dreams of his master coming for him.

I was thinking of this remarkable story, which is based on a true story of a dog in the 1920’s and 30’s. I want to be like Hachi… I want my day to revolve around my master. I want to bless others who see me watching faithfully day after day for His return, and if I should die before He returns… I want my last thoughts to be of Him, remembering our walk together in this life and dreaming of our soon reunion.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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