Tag Archives: Fear

Worthy

Once you have been qualified and trained as a marine, you are considered to be a “leatherneck” forever.  Which means, you are expected to live out the values and attitudes of a marine. The Marine Corps Officer’s Guide,” 1964 edition, makes it clear: “Traditions are not preserved by books and museums, but by faithful adherence on the part of all hands—you especially.”  Translation?  Since you are a marine, live like one.

Paul wrote something similar to fellow Christians:

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. –  (Philippians 1:27-28a)

What does it mean to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ?”  In this short quote, we see it means to confidently stand firm in what you believe without letting opposition sway you.  It also means to be joined with other believers by the Spirit of God, operating on the same page and working together to spread the good news.   With no fear.

In a team sports contest, you can generally pick the winner by observing which team plays with the most confidence and unity.  Confidence and unified hearts and minds are the essentials as well for a life “worthy of the gospel.”

For Sure

Here’s the truth for Ann Maree, things she knows with certainty in Heaven:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

                                                           (Psalm 23)

The Mousetrap Question

Jesus did something that scared the living daylights out of His critics.  Do you know how?  Was it with a startling miracle?  A demonstration of mighty power?  Neither.  He did it with a question!  Jesus asked a question that frightened them and shut them up for good.  Like all good mousetraps, Jesus’ question seemed safe and simple at first.

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied.” (Matthew 22:41-42)

This looked like an easy volleyball lob for a return spike.  These guys were experts on the Scripture.  They knew all the answers.  And this one was easy.   They all knew that the Christ would be the son, or the descendant, of David.  You can almost see the cynical and triumphant look on their faces as they easily answered Jesus’ question.

But then Jesus’ trap was sprung!

“He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. “ (Matthew 22:43-46 – my emphases)

Whap!!!   Question is, what was it about this seemingly innocuous exchange that was so frightening to them?  Maybe this:

  • These self-proclaimed experts in the Scripture suddenly saw that there is more going on in God’s Word than they understood.  They didn’t know all the answers.  The Scriptures were written from God’s vantage point, not the limited and comparatively ignorant vantage point of humans.  To be confronted with this is humbling and frightening.  Especially for “scholars.”
  • Jesus trusted the actual words written in the Bible.  He didn’t pick and choose, as they did, according to what seemed right.  He accepted the words as they were written, even when those words didn’t conform with human, common sense.
  • Jesus knew that when the Scriptures were written, the human authors were “speaking by the Spirit” of God.
  • Because they could not refute what He said, the Pharisees began to suspect that the One with whom they were speaking was:
    • The Lord
    • The Messiah or Christ
    • Qualified to sit at the right hand of God
    • Would ultimately dominate all His enemies

When the rug is pulled out from under the things we think we know, it can be very scary.  Even more so when you cannot explain away the new insights.  The smart thing to do, despite your fear, is to re-evaluate your assumptions, looking carefully and thoughtfully into the things that have frightened you.  Such as what it says in the Bible.  That’s not what Jesus’ critics did.  They decided to kill Him.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Dealing with Fear

Be afraid; be very afraid!  That’s the message of the news shows on TV.  The more you worry, the better they like it, because worry drives their profit.  What do you worry about?  What keeps you awake at night?  Do you have an answer, something specific?  Me too.  If you would like to worry less, here’s a good word:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,” (Psalm 46:1-2)

Whoever wrote those words was living at a time when it was frequently necessary to grab a sword and run out to chop and slash murderous attackers,  It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like.  I’d have been pretty jumpy.  Maybe we have it comparatively easy, but worry can still harass us.   Whatever it is that worries you, let those truths soak in and do their work.

And this:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Scary Christmas

His scream was blood-curdling.  But there was nothing I could do.  It was the middle of the night, the house was dark, and just as I approached the bathroom door, my little brother came out and saw me standing there.  He woke the whole family.  You should have seen what Dad looked like when came flying out of his bedroom…   I got thinking about that night as I read these familiar lines:

” And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)

Understandably, before the angel said anything about good news or about the Christ child being born, He said “Don’t be afraid!”  Don’t freak out, I’m not going to hurt you.  He probably was trying to stop all the screaming.  Can you imagine how the shepherds felt, out there in the field, minding their own business in the middle of the night, when suddenly they get lit up with a search light from above?  “Don’t be afraid!”

I’ve never seen “Don’t be Afraid!” on a Christmas card but maybe we should start adding that phrase to our Christmas greetings.  “Don’t be afraid – Merry Christmas!”  What do you think?  I sense a lot of fear out there concerning the Christmas message.  People seem to want to make Christmas go away.  Perhaps it frightens them?  It used to frighten me, back when I was a confirmed doubter.  I didn’t want to be a sucker and buy into any false legends.  I was afraid to believe – kind of like a little kid on the end of a diving board for the first time.

I know better now.  Come on in, He won’t hurt you!  Don’t be afraid!  Merry Christmas!

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

How Could Leaders be so Dumb?

They should have known better; that’s the frightening thing.  They were leaders, trusted by the people to lead and guide, and yet, they ultimately did exactly the wrong thing!  Like trusted leaders so frequently do…  But God knew they would do it and incorporated their blindness and stupidity into His “Greatest Plan.”

” Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death …”” (Matthew 20:17-18)

The chief priests and scribes (Bible scholars) should have known about “The Son of Man.”  They had studied about the prophet, Daniel, and had memorized his vision:

““In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

Daniel saw Someone like a human being (a son of man) Who also was an equal to God.  God gave Him “all authority, glory and sovereign power” and He is worshiped by all peoples.  The priests and scribes should have known “The Son of Man” was Jesus.  Why?  He used that title for Himself more than any other.  Moreover, He proved it to them!  After declaring to a paralytic that his sins were forgiven, and being accused of blasphemy (because only God can forgive sins), Jesus said:

“… “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home.” (Matthew 9:4b-7)

They should have known that Jesus was “the Son of Man,” the Savior sent by God.  The proof was tangible. They should have humbly begged Him to forgive their sins.  But instead, they, the religious leaders, condemned Him to death.   

Why were they so blind?  I believe they felt threatened by Jesus, felt their positions of importance and authority were in jeopardy.  Too often people in leadership positions care more about maintaining their position and privilege than they do about doing the right thing.  It’s a characteristic flaw in humans.

God knew that and used it.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Enemy Whisperer

The hounds of Hell live just around the corner from my house in Colorado, two German Shepherds with slathering fangs and burning hot coals for eyes. The chain link fence that stops them from eviscerating me has my deepest respect and gratitude. But I am convinced that the “Dog Whisperer” could nonchalantly walk into their yard and gentle them in short order.

It takes a lot of courage to be a “whisperer.” The “Dog Whisperer” and these guys who get into corrals with wild horses have great courage. But they also have something the average person does not. Somehow, they have the capacity to show they pose no threat, that they understand that the animal’s aggression is based in fear. The one who “whispers” really wants the very best for those animals.

Jesus says, “Be an enemy whisperer:”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44)

The love that Jesus refers to here is genuine concern for the wellbeing of your potential adversary, at the risk of your own wellbeing. Jesus would have us get in the corral with our enemy, posing no threat and acting with the understanding his aggression is rooted in fear. Jesus would have us communicate by what we do that we are truly there to bless. Clearly, that takes a lot of courage. But it takes something else, too, something the average person does not have.

That previous quote from Jesus is incomplete. He ended the sentence by saying,

“…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:45a)

To “be a son” of someone is an idiom for being so full of his character and spirit that you thoroughly resemble him. Jesus says, love your enemies, showing that you are full of God’s Spirit and in step with His character. The Spirit of God is something the average person does not have. But Jesus came to “whisper” us, to show us He posed no threat but was out for our genuine good. He said He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save us (John 3:17). Jesus knew that without God’s Spirit we were stuck in fear. But He came, at the risk of His own life, to bless us. For those who will truly trust Him, Jesus connects them to and fills them with God’s Spirit in a living way.

And says, “Whisper your enemies…”