Fear of New Things

Fear–A Christian’s greatest Enemy
In a couple of day we will begin a journey going through the Max Lucado book, Fearless.  Dealing with a family member the other day and discussing the physical decline of her mother, I used Thursday’s lesson about finding the peace of Christ in the midst of the storm.  It seems fear can be a constant companion if we relent from the peace brought to us by Jesus.

Twenty-nine years ago this I was facing the same doubts and fear.  I was a twenty-seven year old hitch-hiking to Rhode Island to start college for the first time.  All I had were two duffle bags with clothes and twenty dollars in my pocket.  Getting dropped off on I-95 in the Bronx the houses over the side of the highway we burned and boarded.  I asked God for a ride and sat three hours on the highway breakdown lane watching the sun sink toward the western sky and the soon coming darkness.

God, help me!

I began to pray, “Lord, Send me a Christian!  Someone who lets me know I am here because you want me here and not of my own accord.”  Shortly someone pulled over and took me to Stanford, CT.  I stuck out my thumb and a car pulls up–with a large Bible on the front seat and Christian material in the back–Jay Orvis, who brought foreign Christians to study in the United States.  He took me home and fed me after introducing me to his family and a couple from Israel.  Amazed?  So was I!

Learn to be Fearless

If you starting to wonder about the class-STOP.  Don’t let fear stop you from being fearless.  Pray for God to impact you these next ten weeks like he did for me so long ago.  The end of the story is this–if I had not gotten a Bachelor’s degree then, I could not have entered seminary years later when God called me out of the hotel industry into vocational ministry.  I had learned to trust God more by that time but it was still a struggle leaving.

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.

Jeremiah 29:11

Love Conquers Death

Marriage is built like a home–piece by piece
As I watched the end of a marriage yesterday it was not in a courtroom being dissolved by a judge, but death. This loving couple faced the greatest enemy to marriage as they had faced years of struggles–together hand in hand. In the midst of Death was compassion, care, concern and love. They built their love like they built their home–piece by piece and without debt. Each new window sealed the home from the cold and warmed their hearts as a shared accomplishment. Each new nail hammered into place was another anchor as two worked and became one flesh. Their joint faith became the picture which years later would have their daughter to become a lay-minister. And as the hour approached, the three of them shared one last bed together, arm in arm, united by their love.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14-15

Man fears death but it was the Love of God made flesh which defeats this fear. Anyone who does not know the Lord is in a prison of their own making and Death is the warden. He struggles against its oncoming and the cosmetic industry rakes in billions of dollars from those seeking to hide the onset of aging.Though they now be apart for a short season, by faith they can say:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Darkness–Our Foe!

Cursing the darkness
As I sat this morning in the small glow from our Christmas village, it would soon to be taken down for another year.  The balance of our apartment was dark and the pictures of our daughter were covered by this heavy darkness. The light from my laptop screen seemed brighter because the darkness was so complete.  As it has happened every day since creation, God brought forth the sun for light to our eyes and warmth to our day.  As a child, I ran through the darkened halls of my parent’s house to get dressed for bed. Forgetting to say good night, I would race through the dark tunneled hallway to the living room and light.  I could have turned on the switch by my bedroom, but the fear of the darkness removed reason from a six year old.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  
(John 3:19-20 NIV)
Man loves the darkness
Has anyone ever seen a bar at nighttime with the lights turned up?  The answer is no.  Many of us remember Studio 54 as the famous New York disco of the 70’s and 80’s where the “beautiful” people entered into the world of drugs, drink, and debauchery.  Within the walls of Studio 54 the creators of the venue walked in darkness stealing millions of dollars and eventually spending time in prison for their crime.  Man loves the darkness because he thinks he can hide his deeds.  As children of God we need to act like children and run from the darkness and into the light.  In the light there is my heavenly DAD no darkness.  Not a bad place to be for a child afraid of the dark.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

(1 John 1:5-6 NIV)

The Defeat Of Fear!

Learning to Reverence God
In Isaiah 6 he records a vision of the heavenly court and the praise and adoration being given to God. This soon turns to a personal fear because of two things: his speech and the speech of his people.
Look. This coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out.”And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”I spoke up, “I’ll go.
(The Message Isaiah 6)
Godly-fear brings His redemption
In this passage we can see what a godly-fear does and what it produces in man. When faced with the high holiness of God we recognize the deficit in our lives. We were born into sin and continue in the life of sin with all of its destructive behaviors. Recognizing the fact like Isaiah that every word and deed we have ever done is blasphemous (The Message Isaiah 6:1-8) brings redemption and justification. The payment of Christ’s righteousness bring a new status as children of God and a different awe of what God has done to us and for us. With this awe we become willing for service.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
(Luke 12:4-5 NIV)

There is another type of fear which reveals itself in such things as fear of success or failure and these types of fear immobilizes us. In my past I had such a fear of failure I either choose to do nothing or to strive so hard to cover all the bases so failure was not an option. At times, I feared what others might say if so I did not try. How did I overcome this? I chose to accept the awe of God and not fear what others might say. This is not an arrogant thought but giving more credibility to God than man. I know I am his son by adoption and his outlook for me is eternal.

I Resolve …

How long did your New Year’s resolutions last?

It would seem odd for a blog relating to New Year’s Eve resolutions to come out three days later but a majority of those resolutions so resolutely made may now be on life-support.  Companies like Weight-Watchers, Jenny Craig, and gyms advertise around this time to gain business from those who resolved to lose weight.  Why is it most people wait to the beginning of a new year to make such resolutions?  Could it be the significance of beginning anew each January 1st gives people the motivation to make such resolutions?

“When we heard that, we and everyone there that day begged Paul not to be stubborn and persist in going to Jerusalem. But Paul wouldn’t budge: “Why all this hysteria? Why do you insist on making a scene and making it even harder for me? You’re looking at this backward. The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?” We saw that we weren’t making even a dent in his resolve, and gave up. “It’s in God’s hands now,” we said. “Master, you handle it.”

(Acts 21:12-14 The Messsage) 

God’s faithful servants are great counsels.

Sometimes as Christians we face opposition from those we thought would be our greatest advocates.  They may not have the divine inkling you received from prayer, counsel, and more prayer.  I try to find those who have labored hard in their walks and it shows on their faces–not wrinkles or lines but of joy and peace.  They have faithfully followed the Lord’s leading and these warriors make great counselors.  They may be a pastor or a tried and true lay-servant and praying and listen to their advice helps to keep my plans from failing.

Paul was not concerned by the consequence of his resolve but of the Lord and how he would be glorified by Paul’s response. At times, Christians believe God has called them to a certain task and take the attitude of “charging Hell with a water pistol”.  Even Jesus tells us to count the cost of discipleship.  Perhaps, this year, we will weigh the costs, seek prayer and counsel and determine it is not about me but HIM.  Then our resolutions will be like Paul’s–wondering how Jesus is glorified because of our obedience.