Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

h1

“SEEING BEYOND TOMORROW’S GLOOM” – Feb 22

February 22, 2014

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Nick Kenrick .. GO Canada GO / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The future looms before every person.  The length and breadth of these tomorrows are generally assumed greater than their actual duration and are often casually dismissed.  However, every breath taken is an act of exploration into a realm never before experienced.  The mystery of tomorrow forces us all into the uncertain adventure of living life.

In my optimism of youth, I relished this adventure.  The future was a land of opportunity and freedom.  Without responsibilities and obligations, I raced around the blind corners of tomorrow, crashed through decisions without apprehension, confident that the future was a gift that waited to be opened.

Scott Hudson * / Foter / CC BY

Years have been spent on this adventure of tomorrow and my optimism for youth has waned.  Explorations into the temporal mysteries has proven that all that lay ahead is not the pleasant gift I once assumed.  The unabashed plunge to see beyond the bright horizon has been slowed by the dim of experience.  Hard knocks and expensive lessons weigh down optimism.  Disappointment and torn relationships sap the spirit of adventure.  Unfulfilled expectations and suffering erode confidence into trepidation.

The filter of experience reveals the future as a dark, dense forest where even a breeze becomes lost.  Experience teaches that the adventure of life is a long walk through an imposing, meandering wilderness of darkness broken only by sporadic patches of light.  It is a place where dreams are swallowed and a sanguine disposition gasps for air.

Mirkwood!

Mirkwood! (Photo credit: eckenheimer)

Hope is lost when informed only by the rhetoric of experience.

Experience knows that the satisfaction sought in the land of tomorrow never can be sustained in the present.

Experience knows that happiness and contentment can be stolen by a telephone call.

Experience knows that esteem can slip away in a wave of miscalculation.

Experience knows the eternity within man’s heart will  eventually be swallowed by failing flesh.

Daunted courage is all that can come from a mind informed only by experience.  Hard earned wisdom will inevitably restrain the will into steps of caution through a future of unseen but anticipated difficulties.  The optimism of youth cannot withstand the honest revelation of experience when its hopes are placed within the finite horizon.  The finite future is a dark land of trials and tribulations that no amount of optimism can overcome.

Experience can only be rebutted by a hope that resides beyond the finite horizon in the infinite. 

Undaunted courage to walk through the difficult mysteries of tomorrow arises from the hope in the land that is promised but yet unseen.  Optimism is sustained through finite disappointments of today only when informed of an infinite hope that cannot be taken.

Art4TheGlryOfGod / Foter / CC BY-ND

Hope abounds only within the completed work
of the Overcomer of this world, Jesus Christ.

The power of positive thinking is a foolish hoax of the deceived.  There is no power in the optimism for a finite world.  Experience has taught me that hope is lost in the finite but the Spirit sings to me of the everlasting joy in the infinite.

Therefore, I reclaim my youthful optimism by setting my eyes beyond the finite horizon to a promised land at the feet of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Overcomer this world.  I can joyfully race around the blind corners of tomorrow, crash through decisions without apprehension, and confidently stride toward the gift of eternal life while I endure all things because I eagerly await my adoption as son, the redemption of my body (Romans 8:23).

That is the power of an optimistic life that leads to peace.
True, unfailing power comes only in thinking that is set upon the positive redeeming work of Christ.

PRAYER: Lord, give courage to my soul to face tomorrow.  I take all my fears and failures that experience beats down upon me and cast them before you.  I renounce my pessimism that years have hard won.  I reclaim the optimism of my youth, transformed by your grace.  Spirit, speak to my worn soul of the joys that await.  Revive my vigor for a life lived in the conquering power of my great Redeemer.  Thank you for giving me the gift of eternal life.  Help me to set my eyes upon your promises beyond the finite horizon that I am drawn to.  Draw me deeper into you … Draw me to the infinite.  I praise you O Lord (Take Heart).  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

“FEARING TO FEAR” – Dec 13

December 13, 2013

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

I gazed up at the night sky on my drive home from work the other day.  It was an incredible display – stars deep and bright posing a mysterious question that challenged exploration and elicited awe.  The fullness of the expanse shrunk the office entanglements that still clung to my consciousness.  The burdens and responsibilities of a small business owner failed to rise above the trivial when confronted by the breath and complexity of this natural world painted across the black canvas of a night sky.

YKDZSHOW2013_INFINITY-ROOM_VIEW-1_NO-TRIPOD_web-600x450(Image: Yayoi Kusama  I Who Have Arrived In Heaven )

I felt a familiar sense of fear as I gawked at that night sky.

The implications of creation that come from a clear night sky are daunting upon contemplation.  We live in a world of intricate detail and minute precision.  It is a world of impassable distances and staggering scale.  Our discoveries reveal how much we do not know or understand.  There are many theories of how all that surrounds us came to be.  Most of these theories demand a faith of the adherent that is greater than any religion.  They yield to these theories to avoid the natural response of the alternative.  The natural response to contemplating this world as the product of a Creator’s hand is trepidation.

lrargerich / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

The realization that we are not alone should be jarring.

The presence of a Creator diminishes all of the accomplishments of man.

The theories and physical laws of human intellects climbing the heights of knowledge appear as mere children’s stories in contrast to the knowledge of a Creator who caused the ordering of those laws.

We lay defenseless before a Creator who gave the sun its energy.

We are but grains of sand on a limitless beach when the timeless reach of an infinite Creator is considered.

A living and active God, who has the power to create, changes the world that we live in.

Who can stand before one such as He?
What strength must one have to contend with the One who has created?
What claim can be made of the One who is without peer?

j-dub1980(THANK YOU FOR 100k+ Views) / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Sanity demands a response of the created for their Creator.

Fear is the sane response to the power of the Creator of the scale and scope of our world.
Fear is the reasoned emotion to the incomprehensibility of the Creator who speaks matter into existence.
Fear of Him who created the heavens and earth should be what all people feel.

Thankfully, the created were not left in the uncertainty of the knowledge of a Creator’s existence, absent his character – that would be terrifying.

God has revealed himself throughout scripture.  He revealed Himself generally through His creation but specifically through His prophets, disciples, apostles and Son.  He has shown Himself to be a Creator who abounds in grace and mercy for those He has created.  He has proven Himself faithful even when His creation was unfaithful.  He has demonstrated patience in response to blasphemy.  He displayed the greatest love ever known.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:16-17)

However, the revelation of the Creator through scripture begins with fear.  I do not think that it was happenstance that the first verse of the Bible proclaims God as the creator of the heavens and earth.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!  (Psalm 111:10)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

All decisions begin with knowledge.  God wills us to be knowledgeable because true knowledge of the Creator leads to us to a savior.  I do not believe that a sane person who truly believes in creator God, who knows their unrighteousness, who has had their mind open to redemption of the blood of Christ on the cross, will ever reject the redemptive plan that the Creator knew when He hung the star of Bethlehem in the night sky.

The beginning of that journey to salvation begins with the fear of the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth.  Until we acknowledge God as creator, we will never be humbled enough to know Him as Lord and Savior.

The fear of the Lord is a precious gift.  The overwhelming awareness that we are in the presence of the magnificent God of the universe should humble us.

The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.  (Numbers 14:18)

The doorway to true worship is knowledge of who we are worshiping.  That doorway is latched with the fear of the Lord.  It will do us well to periodically come back to the beginning of faith, to be humble by the healthy fear of our Creator.

lrargerich / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

We are blessed to be diminished by the Creator of the night sky.

We need not fear to fear our Lord.  It is not a fear that causes us to flee.  It is a fear that beckons us to draw near.  Honest fear of the incomprehensible Father of heaven and earth ushers us into deep and meaningful worship of the Creator who saves and the incomprehensible extent of his mercy, grace, and love.

PRAYER: O Lord, you are great and greatly to be praised.  I stand before You humbled by the reality of your magnificence.  You are God, the One and only.  I will trust in You and not be shaken for You hold all the world in your hand.  I can rest in You alone because you are the creator.  Nothing is impossible for the One who has the power to breathe the breath of life.  Thank you for teaching me to fear You.  Thank you for using that knowledge to draw me to yourself.  You truly are glorified in all of your creation.  May you be glorified in me.  I praise you, O Lord.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

“The humility of wisdom is the happy consciousness that all things come from God, are sustained by God, and exist for God. This wisdom is rooted in the pride-destroying, joy-giving cross of Christ.”
~ John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

h1

“DAMAGING NORMAL” – May 3

May 4, 2013

“O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! ”  Psalm 84:12

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am on the last day of a four-day, National Christian Forensics and Communications association (NCFCA), Regional tournament.  I believe I am on the verge of a severe speech and debate overdose and may need an extended recovery period.  However, my over-exposure to so many excellent speech and debate competitors has provided me with a unique perspective that has led to a startling conclusion.

Based on my observation, I am resolved that prolonged exposure to NCFCA will result in permanent brain damage.

Fact No.1The typical brain responds to public speaking with a fear induced adrenaline dump resulting in flight.

Fact No. 2The severity of the typical brain’s fear response increases inversely with a decrease in speech preparation time.

Fact No. 3The typical brain will become inoperable when public speaking is combined with the reality that other people are actually judging their speaking performance.

Over the last couple days, I have observed students that do not exhibit any of the common and expected manifestations of a normally functioning brain.  The common denominator among these students is exposure to the NCFCA.

I have watched young people get up in front of their peers and do fairy tale interpretations, complete with silly voices and actions – that should be scary.

I have seen some competitors deliver speeches on current event topics, with limited preparation.  I don’t think that some of these competitors were prepared for their selected topic but they got up to deliver their speech in spite of this – that should have sent them to the bathroom for a good purge.

I have seen adolescents tackle deep theological questions in front of stern looking adults – what could be more terrifying for a teenager?

These NCFCA students do not exhibit normal responses.  The ease at which these students accomplished these activities demonstrates that there is something abnormal about their brains.

Those who have been in NCFCA for extended durations often enter multiple events.  These are the students who do what is called the Ironman of speech and debate.  The Ironman competitors enter at least five speech competitions and the debate competition.  The result of this particular malady is that these competitors often can give more the 24 speeches in a day and still enjoy the process.

That is conclusive evidence of a completely damaged brain.  Their exposure to NCFCA has probably damaged them for the rest of their lives.

They will most likely suffer from an annoying ease in standing in front of other people and communicating effectively and persuasively.

This is an example where damaging normal is a good thing.  There are so many other areas in our lives where normal needs to be likewise damaged.

It can take a long time for the fear response of our brains to be sufficiently broken.  In my opinion, it is best for a person to face their fears in small controlled events that irradiate their natural fear response from one degree to a lesser degree.  These NCFCA students have successfully killed the debilitating fear of public speaking by doing what most people would never consider doing.  They typically started speaking in small classes; then moved onto broader groups in the clubs; then they enter one event at a competition; and then more, until they are orating three days of more than twenty speeches per day.  The more often they submit their fears to action, the easier it has become to overcome.  In addition, they have surrounded themselves with doers.  They are encouraged by their peers and coaches to do more and improve.

NCFCA is a fear killing organization that is permanently changing how our children communicate with the world they live in.

I have meditated on the successfulness of the NCFCA.  I am convinced that we need various forms of NCFCA-like organizations in our lives.  Our spiritual lives are so often inhibited by fear.  Consider our apprehension – fear – of fully trusting God.  We can be so fearful of trusting God that we live in the adrenaline induced world of the control-freak.  We try to control our little worlds through a deception created by fear.

The majority of people find it a fearful activity to trust God with all that they value.  That is not considered normal by this world.  Trusting in the sovereignty of God is considered strange and weird by many.  It is considered irresponsible due to fear.

We need to work at killing this fear by the same principles of the NCFCA.  We kill our inner control freak by doing – trusting God.  When we trust God in the small way, then we will realize that He is trustworthy.  When we trust God in close and trusted environments, then we will discover that He knows what we need.  The longer we are engaged in the action of actually trusting God and being around those who trust God the more we discover that there is nothing to fear.  The sovereignty of God is a reality that we experience when we trust God.

The apprehension of trusting God can be killed by facing our fear and going forward in faith, despite our fear.

Step out in faith and your brain will be changed permanently from the normal and prepared for the extraordinary.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for transforming our hearts.  Thank you for changing how we think.  Thank you for killing fear.  Lord, you have been so good to me.  You have been so faithful.  Forgive me for not trusting you like I should.  Show me those areas in my life where I am not trusting you.  Help me to step out in faith; my your Spirit kill my sin of fear.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

h1

“SLAYING FEAR” – April 25

April 25, 2013

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. “ 2 Chronicles 20:12b      “…Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:12b

Franklin D. Roosevelt after giving one of his ...“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

This is a quote that anyone who has studied 20th Century American History will recognize. It is a quote that gets dusted off when something disturbing happens.  It gets placed in the mortar and pestle of political speech writers to create various elicitors intended to inoculate the masses against discouragement.

However, the quote is somewhat ridiculous when taken out of the context of the speech.  The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself – really?  There are a lot of things in this world that worth fearing more than being afraid.

I would rather be afraid than:

…to have actual bombs be set off at marathons.

… gunmen shooting through schools.

…dictators launching nuclear missiles.

…planes flown into buildings.

…asteroids striking the earth.

…fertilizer plants exploding.

…storms washing away homes and businesses.

…cancer.

…bankruptcy.

…persecution.

…assault and rape.

…random accidents.

…chaos.

I would rather be afraid than have any of those bad events actually happen.  It seems to me that a more rational question is why aren’t more people afraid.

Fear Filled Bathtub

Fear Filled Bathtub (Photo credit: Kewima)

Fear is not a bad thing.  Fear serves a very important purpose.  The problem with many of the manifestations of this FDR quote is that they attempt to deny fear.  Fear was not intended to be denied.

We all live in a world that is beyond our control.  It is beyond the control of any individual person or government.

There are people in this world that will do bad things no matter what restrictions, incentives/dis-incentives, or educational efforts are made. 

There are acts of nature that no man-made edifices can withstand.  

There are forces in this world that are beyond our control. 

Fear shows us our powerless state.  It reveals our helpless condition.  Fear devours the adequacy of our answers.  There will inevitably come a time for every person when they simply do not know what to do.  We all are guaranteed to discover the inadequacy of our human answers in the face of the overwhelming power of death.  All of mankind is powerless to death.  Death should be feared by fallen man. It is foolishness to deny our powerlessness condition with trite quotes.

All fear, particularly fear of death, has a very important purpose.  Fear is a God created response in man that was designed to turn us toward God.

It is at the foot of fear where we are forced to admit that we do not know what to do.  Fear humbles us.  It is often only when our answers run-out that we look for answers beyond ourselves.  Fear has served its purpose when we are humbled under the mighty hand of God; when our answers have run-out and we turn our eyes onto God.  That is when he will exalt us.  God is our only true and complete answer to fear.

It is only in God that fear can actually be vanquished.  All other answers will only suppress and deny the fear of the powerless.  It is only when we place all of our hope in God our Father that we can know the joy that this world can do nothing to us of eternal consequence.

It is only in Christ when our battles become the Lord’s.

Fear can be a debilitating beast.  Fear can paralyze us.  If you are in Christ, you have been set free.  You have been set free from those real fears that bind and debilitate.  Set the fears that hinder you before our Lord, acknowledge that you don’t know what to do, and set your eyes upon Him and Him alone.  Cast all of your cares upon Him because he cares for you.(1 Peter 5:7)

We are powerless but we have a powerful God, who is for us.  Our battles are His battles and there is nothing that is too hard for Him.

May we pray the same prayer from FDR’s inaugural address that included the quote on fear, “…we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.” FDR’s First Inaugural Address .

PRAYER: Thank you for defeating sin.  Thank you for breaking death.  You reign in majesty and power.  Your kingdom cannot be defeated. All things are possible in You.  I have nothing to fear because of You.  I am secure in You.  I am victorious in You despite any pain, failure, heartache, or opposition.  I shall not fear.  I shall not fear!  I shall not fear for my hope is in You, the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are my God and I will rest in You, to your praise and glory.  I praise You and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

%d bloggers like this: