Showing posts with the label Fear

HIS peace stands guard

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. (Philippians 4:6-7) If you struggle with what to say when you stop long enough to talk with God about things you are experiencing anxiety about, you are probably among a huge group of others who experience similar anxious thoughts. Anxiety has become one of the biggest issues today simply because of all the uncertainty in the world around us. Supply chain issues, rising interest rates, difficulty finding jobs that pay enough to make ends meet, unrest over one's beliefs, and the list goes on. For some, these things can become overwhelmingly difficult to deal with. The desire is to have God take it all away, but the reality is that God primarily helps us walk through those difficulties rather than removing them co

In this together

Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. (Philippians 1:28-30) Stop for just a moment to think how your strength in the midst of trials and hurtful things speaks to others. It actually stands as a 'sign' to your enemy that you are going to be standing stronger when it is all finished! That frightens them more than you know because they realize they won't fair as well. We have the privilege of standing in the midst of those hurtful things with the presence of Christ - something they know full well they lack. We have the privilege of trusting in Christ. Have you ever thought of your faith in Christ as a privilege that gives you an 'advantage' over your enemy? It gives you the 'edge' to

My troubled emotions

Fear is a powerful emotion that some say can actually paralyze you - putting you in total "stall mode" while the world moves on around you.  If you have ever experienced that heart-pounding, sweaty palms, shaky legs kind of fear, you know just how many scenarios run through your head making it almost impossible to exercise clear or rational thought at that moment.  Fear produces an anxiety response physically - it just isn't the emotional upheaval going on inside our heads.   When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. I trust God, so I am not afraid of what people can do to me! I praise God for his promise to me. (Psalm 56:3-4) Scripture comes complete with stories of men and women in positions of great peril, emotional upheaval, and even life-threatening circumstances of both their own and others doing.  We all struggle with similar emotions and the physical responses which come along with them.  We don't stand as uniquely "different" when it comes to the lif

Has God gone silent?

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. (Psalm 22:1-2) I think we have all been in that place at one time or another where we find ourselves actually thinking God has somehow abandoned us. The circumstances suggest the worst is about to happen, we begin to whirl out of control emotionally, our thoughts are running rampant from one perception to the next, and we somehow feel like we are in it all alone. When we don't IMMEDIATELY see the answer to the circumstances, we might just begin to doubt God will lend any help, all our calls for help seemingly falling on deaf ears. Are we wrong to express our doubts or 'struggle of faith' in those moments? Absolutely not! God doesn't 'ding us' for our moments of doubt - he uses them to strengthen or deepen our faith. It is never wrong to seek to understand why such dif

A Thomas Moment

“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29) You believe - not because you were compelled to believe - but because you hungered enough to know the truth and be set free by it. Do we believe because we see, or is it because we have heard? Are we the type of people who demand a sign and then another just to confirm what we have heard is true? It never ceases to amaze me that God knows the weakness of our spirit and the questioning of our mind. Here is the most amazing truth - he meets us right where we are.  Thomas happened to be absent the night Jesus appeared to the disciples following the resurrection. When we was told about his appearance, he had a hard time accepting their 'testimony' of what they saw. In fact, he told them he needed the ultimate proof - being able to touch his pierced hands and side. Eight days later, gathered together in a locked room, Jesus gives him the opportunity. In those eight days, I wonder

Too comfortable?

Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” (John 11:45-50) A couple of things really stood out to me after reading the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus came out of the grave, after being dead a good couple of days, wrapped completely in grave clothes (hands and feet bound, face wrapped in a headcloth). There before the crowds sto

I dunno...

Worry weighs a person down;  an encouraging word cheers a person up. (Proverbs 12:25) How are encouraging words best used? In what circumstances do they matter the most? Who is best to bring those encouraging words into our lives? Is it possible the words of encouragement you are hearing are not always genuine? If you are worrying about those words, you are likely weighed down, feeling like you don't 'deserve' those words. Words of encouragement aren't to be given out so freely that someone doesn't think them genuine, but when they are needed most, they should be spoken the loudest! Encouragement might be to receive a boost that actually brings us back to life a bit, being bolstered by the words we hear, or to be spurred on in a certain direction. Regardless of the circumstances, there are times when we just need a bit of encouragement - either to continue on the course we are on, or to keep doing what we have been doing because it is 'working' to accomplish

Opposites attract

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God. (I Peter 1:18-19) I listened as my pastor shared the moments in his life where he had struggles with doubts - something we don't expect a pastor to share with his congregants. I understood what state of mind he could have been in when he was experiencing these doubts. I was fully aware of my own doubts along the way - times when I wondered if God 'really said' or 'really meant'. It is never wrong to have doubts - it

I have not yet begun to fight!

If fear is cultivated it will become stronger, if faith is cultivated it will achieve mastery.  (John Paul Jones) These words were spoken by an American naval Captain who lived in the 1700's - words that remain as true today as they were when they were spoken. A lot of things attempt to create a culture of fear around each of us today - wars, rumors of wars, deadly viruses, and unprecedented disasters caused by outlandish weather fronts. We could grow quite weary trying to fight off the fear, but rather than weary ourselves by attempting to fight it off, let's work to cultivate faith instead. The more we cultivate our faith - or allow Christ to cultivate it within us - the less fearful things will intimidate us! ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10) If we are 'serv

Things that go thump in the night

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or de

Know what NOT to fear

Plato reminded us: "Courage is knowing what NOT to fear." We all probably have those things that we are fearful of, don't we? Last night we had one of those horrendous dust storms with winds up to 70 mph and the many noises you hear when those gusts rip through your neighborhood can send your heart into palpitations! Thuds from pine cones and branches hitting the roof tops, clinks and clunks as small branches and leaves are driven into the windows at speeds that make them mini-missiles, and the noise of wind whipped lawn chairs skidding across the patio. Add to this excitement the timing of the storm at well after bedtime and you get the idea that sleep was not to come easily. Cell phone alerts blaring one out of slumber and then the horrific noise of those winds - my heart took a bit to return to normal rate and rhythm! Did I need to fear the storm? Not really, but I knew enough to appreciate the gravity of it. The yard would be left littered with all manner of debris an

Holding on tightly

But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, every bone in my body laughing, singing, "God, there's no one like you. You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!" (Psalm 35:9-10) Times were different when many of us were children. Back in the 60's when I was a wee one, no one thought it odd to allow their children to play in the front yard - oftentimes running from one neighbor to the next depending on who had the neatest toys to play the next go-round of imaginary play. If my grandsons want to ride their bikes, it take a whole lot for mom to not restrict them to riding in circles in front of the house! Today, we sequester our children from the world around them, arranging instead for "play dates" because we have a society in which we do not feel comfortable allowing them to run "loose and free". Sad, isn't it? I wonder, though, just how much of our life's celebrations we miss out

Coffin Life is No Life

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. (James Baldwin) The more we attempt to 'live within' our masks - rather they protect us from things we'd rather not know, or cover over things we already know all too well - those masks aren't really going to do their job very well in the end. Some people use their careers as the 'mask they live within' - useless busywork that seems to really be getting them nowhere in the end. Others will use their humor as the 'mask they live within' - seeing sarcasm and pointing out the foolishness of others as a way of taking the eyes off of themselves. We can become masters of 'living within' our masks if we allow ourselves to escape into those things. Yes, you read that correctly - we 'allow ourselves' to escape the reality of life by 'living within' some mask we have created. That 'masked place' is really a place of hiding and God asks us to rip

Are you believing a lie?

There is a part of our mind that goes into a panic mode without us even having to think about something. That part of our mind needs the help of the other parts of our brain to not always being in the panic mode. We panic because of the amygdala, but we can get control over panicked thoughts because the prefrontal cortex can bring reason into the situation. There is always a 'trigger' with any form of panic, anxiety, or fear. Our minds can go do the 'panic highway' and take us to the point of being overwhelmed by the thing we are keeping on our minds the most. If it is on our mind - remember it is in God's heart. He wants our mind's burdens to be given to him, so he can restore our minds to a place of peacefulness. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Do what yo

I've never been this way before...

There are times, seasons in life, when we just have to admit it is all 'new' to us. We haven't been that way before - it is uncharted territory for us. I haven't had any cardiac surgery, but my friend was facing another in a history of those types of surgeries, and he didn't know if it would be his last or just another in the list. While it would be 'uncharted territory' for me, it was old hat to him. I haven't been in a hurricane, but I have endured many a monsoon, haboob, and microburst capable of uprooting trees, toppling fences, and hurling large objects across roadways at your vehicle. We can all say we have had those moments where something comes as 'old hat' to us - familiar territory, for sure. As much as we may not like to admit it, when it is 'new territory' we are traversing, we might not feel all that comfortable, secure, or 'faith-filled'! We don't know what to expect, so we are a little fearful. These are natural

Antidote, please!

The fears we face in life - those things that we internalize and focus on that paralyze us and keep us from growing as we should in Christ - these are the things Christ wants us to stop internalizing. In other words, we need to learn to "let it go" a little better and then stop taking it back once we do! There are several differences between love and fear.  We know perfect love casts out all fear - remember that perfect love describes God's character exactly - where he resides, there is absolutely no reason for fear.  When we allow Christ to come into our lives, God's perfect love becomes the guiding influence - fear doesn't have to control us any longer. God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in lov

Frozen in place

Have you ever watched a javelina - a hog well-adapted for the Sonoran Desert region? Catch them wandering into your yard for a quick feast on your flora or fauna and you will be surprised by how quickly they just 'freeze' in place. In the desert, their brown color makes them blend in as though they were a rock just standing there. In the greenery of your grassy yard, that just looks dumb! They freeze because they are hoping to avoid their predators - they want to survive! Fear can be a pretty disabling thing in the life of animals, but in the life of a human being, it can cripple. Whenever fear is allowed to be the controlling influence, we become dead in the water. Fear is defined as a distressing emotion - fueled by impending danger, evil or pain - whether the threat is real or imagined. There are times that our fears are ill-founded - more "made up" than real - but we treat them as real, just at the javelina might do when being caught in the yard by someone who is


Ever find yourself paralyzed by fear? Considering something 'ominous' in front of you, with memories of what you once had behind you? These thoughts plague us and we find ourselves wondering if we can ever make it past the past and getting fully into the present. There isn't much hope of ever experiencing the 'newness' of the present until we let go of all the excuses we offer to attempt to stay connected with our past! Attention, Israel! This very day you are crossing the Jordan to enter the land and dispossess nations that are much bigger and stronger than you are. You're going to find huge cities with sky-high fortress-walls and gigantic people, descendants of the Anakites—you've heard all about them; you've heard the saying, "No one can stand up to an Anakite."   Today know this:  God , your God, is crossing the river ahead of you—he's a consuming fire. He will destroy the nations, he will put them under your power. You will disposs

Good dog or ferocious dog?

Someone once said "faith" has a twin - "doubt". Is it possible that maybe "faith" has a triplet brother - "fear"? Doubt and fear reside alongside each other so much of the time. We may not want to admit it, but when we are doubtful, we have an element of fear that begins to creep into our thoughts and affect our emotions. Doubt leads us to take certain actions or respond in a specific manner. Fear is part of that reaction to doubt. If a large, ferocious looking dog approached me at a dead run, I probably don't have any need to have a sign over the dog's head that tells me I am about to get mauled! Some things we just 'fear' because we have absolutely no doubt about their intent! At other times, doubt just barely creeps in like the tiny chihuahua pattering our way who looks harmless, but when close enough, those teeth can nip at our heels - maybe not with as much power as the huge over-powering dog, but they can still do damage. If

Influential, isn't he?

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid? What can mere man do to me?   ( Psalm 118:5-6   TLB ) What can mere man to do me? That is a powerful question many of us never really take the time to explore. The more accurate question we may want to ask ourselves is, "What has mere man been doing to me?" What is it you have come to believe or accept simply because someone told you, or because of their "threats" you now behave a particular way in response to those threats? There is a fine line between our behavior and our beliefs - we aren't usually too far off in our behavior when it comes to these two things! May I meddle for a moment this morning? Way too many of us have some "fear". We don't want to "rock the boat" at work because we fear we may lose our job even though we are clearly aware of practices or behaviors that have become "common place" that ought no