“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.” – King David (Psalm 57:1-2)
Tag Archives: Fear
I was planning on sharing something different this morning, but then I read another post (from Matthew Winters) that changed my mind.
I won’t go into detail, for, as truth would have it, the Devil is in the details; I will just give you a thumbnail sketch of what happened to me a couple of hours ago.
Early in the morning hours I made a call over the radio on my school bus. It was not a serious call, just one to add a little humor into the day. I called into my dispatch (everyone could hear this) and said, “All of my elementary students are acting right for a change…please advise.” After a silly reply or two, a serious voice came over the radio from the head boss, the manager of the whole show, and asked to see me in his office when I got back to the lot.
Why did he want to see me? Well, it was nothing important, at least nothing I need to recount here. However, for an hour I had to think about what it was that he wanted to see me for. I kept thinking to myself, “What did I do?”
It wasn’t long before I was considering how I would explain to my wife and family my firing. How would we make it? How would I pay the bills? It’s already tough at the moment, but what would I do now? I was literally ready to hear the words, “We are going to have to let you go,” and I hadn’t a single reason.
I was shaking. I was nervous. I was fearful. I was ashamed of myself. I was faithless.
Once the short meeting was over, my boss, a Christian guy, asked me, “So, you still looking for a new church to pastor?”
I left his office feeling like a fool. I left embarrassed. I left with only one short prayer on my lips…”I’m sorry, Lord.”
This is how Satan attempts to defeat the children of God. He accuses, even when there is nothing for which to answer! He makes us look for wrong in ourselves, judge ourselves unjustly, and forget that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and watches over us. He seeks to destroy our faith with fear: fear of the unknown; fear of what doesn’t even exist.
In my weakness, partly because I didn’t start my day with prayer, I fell victim to the enemy’s lies and nearly defeated myself.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“…I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matthew 28:20
Next time the devil starts whispering those accusations in my ear, let me be reminded Who’s side I’m on and Who has already won the victory for me. That might save me some embarrassment when next I fall on my knees.
It is truly wonderful to sit down and type on a real keyboard, not an iPhone! I finally picked up my computer yesterday, new hard drive and all, and just plugged it in. It’s like Christmas came early 😉
The only downside is that my wife now thinks I will never get anything done around the house, because I will be here clicking away for the next two days 😦 Wait! why a frowny face? Typing is good for the soul! 🙂
Actually, if you want to know the truth, we have a whole house full of life that has to be packed and moved by December 29th; I don’t have time to sit and write a lot. We were finally able to secure a place to live just yesterday, so we will be moving out of the parsonage after Christmas. What a way to spend your Christmas break, right?
There is a great temptation to fear the future. For example, I recently suffered two/third’s cut in annual pay with no idea how I’m going to make that up; we are moving into a house that is not ours and is only guaranteed through April or May; and the company I drive school buses for is now facing huge law suits because of the Woodmore bus crash. The future is definitely uncertain.
But fear is nothing new. Take the time to read the Christmas story in its entirety and you will find several times where true, bone-shaking fear engulfed many. First there was Zacharias in the first chapter of Luke, then Joseph in Matthew chapter one, and then Mary and the shepherds in Luke 2. Each of them, when confronted with angelic messages, were greatly troubled. And why not?
Have you ever been confronted by a real angel in all its glory? Me neither. I have gotten messages from God, though. Yep, I sure have. For example, resigning the pastorate of one church without anywhere else to go was a clear message from heaven saying, “Trust me.” At first the message brought fear, but when I heard His voice saying, “Fear not,” I was able to begin to enjoy the thrill of a new chapter in life.
Believe me, I have every reason in the world to worry about the future. I had every reason to tremble in fear when I learned I would be homeless by the end of the year. But just like the shepherds tending their sheep, I have been comforted with the knowledge that my Savior was born. He was the fulfillment of the promises of God, and the promises of God are still true.
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? … 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. … 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Mat 6:25-26, 28, 33-34 HCSB
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. If Joseph and Mary could carry on with life after such shocking announcements, surely I can carry on with wondrous expectation.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jesus
Not long ago I preached a sermon to my congregation, the following text being one of several that I used.
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” – 2 Corinthians 5:11a
There is so much talk about terrorism these days, so much talk about fear, yet very few talk about the fear of God. Why is that? After all, aren’t we commanded to fear the Lord? Isn’t it the wise thing to do?
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10
The problem is that we get so distracted by the common, temporal fears of this world and forget about the eternal. Our minds are so cluttered with all the stresses of this life that we forget about what comes after.
Both of the previous verses also talk about “knowing” and the “knowledge” of God. In the first passage (2 Cor.5:11a) the Apostle Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians: “Hey, it’s because we know who God is and what He’s capable of, not to mention the fact that we must all stand before Him one day (5:10), that we do our dead-level best to tell it to you like it is!”
In the second passage, wise King Solomon is telling anyone who will listen, “The more you know God, the better you’ll understand how life works.” Knowing and understanding who God is will produce produce fear: terror in His enemies; reverential fear in those who love Him.
Jesus said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). [emphasis added]
So, while ever-present bad news will tend to make us want to run and hide or take matters into our own hands, keep everything in its proper perspective. Those who serve the Living Savior; those who are reconciled to God by the atonement of the cross of Christ; those who were once strangers, but now have been made children of the Father, can find peace and rest in the fearfully omnipotent hand of our faithful Creator.
“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” – 1 Peter 4:19
The only ones who should be living in terror, in fear of what may come today or tomorrow, are those who have never known God, have forgotten God, or worse, mock Him (Romans 1:18-32).
When we persuade others to fear God in the proper way, they will come to know His love and love Him in return. Then, instead of living in terror, ironically, “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15
Are you living in fear? Can you call God “Abba, Father” (Daddy)? A proper relationship will produce a proper fear; terror is the product of rebellion.
If you don’t fully understand what I’ve written, or if you’d like to know more about how to live in peace without terror, click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the page and follow the instructions.
Defining the Title
If you don’t know what I mean by “Cacophonous Flabbergasts,” don’t worry; I’ll explain it for you.
You wake up in the morning, turn on the radio and/or television, and check your email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. If you have time, you read a quick devotion and say a 30-second prayer of thanks for a new day.
As you eat breakfast, if you don’t distract yourself with meaningless, mind-numbing popular music, you turn on CNN, FOX, or some other network and hear nothing but depressing, irritating, and ultimately out-of-your-control news and propaganda (unless you watch Al Jazeera – nothing but objective truth). You may even learn a new recipe.
On the way to and from work you get bombarded by advertising created to snag your attention and your money. During breaks, and then later at home, even while doing other things, even while eating, you subject yourself to social media: cat videos; news stories; gossip; pictures of nude celebrities; images of ISIS victims; and things others have, but you want. When bedtime comes you’re ready for sleep, except one more game on the iPad must be played…then another…then answer an instant message…
Cacophonous flabbergasts: Incessantly loud noises and distractions made up of circumstances and situations – some controllable, some not – meant to sap our strength and weaken us, both physically and spiritually; the overwhelming, unending waves of life that eventually knock us off our feet and drown us.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not terrorism, it’s a phone call. If it’s not the stock market in trouble, it’s a friend with marital problems. If it’s not too many things on the schedule, it’s not enough money to pay the bills. If it’s not another unexpected illness that insurance won’t cover, it’s the water being turned off as you’re washing your hair, late to an interview.
The waves of life have a way of taking our eyes off Jesus, don’t they?
When we take our eyes off of Jesus; when we get distracted by all the upheaval, the noise, the shifting surface which continually gives way beneath our feet; there’s no peace, only fear, which leads to doubt, anger, depression, etc.
Much like Peter, whether intentionally or not, we allow the cacophonous flabbergasts to drown out His voice and divert our attention, and we become afraid
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid… – Matthew 14:30
Change Your Focus
I don’t know about you, but I’ve let a lot of what is going on in the world get me down. I’ve let the bills make me worry. I’ve let a lot of bad stuff take my focus of Christ. I’ve been flabbergasted by the cacophony of trials and tribulations.
What about you?
Maybe we should do as Peter did when he began to sink. Maybe we should quit looking at the waves and turn our focus back on Christ. Maybe we should cry out, “Lord, save me!”
And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him… – Matthew 14:31
He did, and He will.
There aren’t many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is) and Russia is less of a threat than China, I think. However, clowns and girls are still a problem.
On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now, as an adult, I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.
But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.
The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted. – Proverbs 10:24
I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” This proverb is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing from will eventually catch up.
What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death. Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.
Gonna Grant It
But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.
Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!
But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.
Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.
No other religion holds as many people in fear as does Islam. We can insult Christians by dipping crucifixes in urine and by court marshaling soldiers for their belief in traditional marriage, but God help us if we draw a cartoon of Mohammed. No one dares offend a Muslim for fear of his house being burned or his throat cut.
Because our nation and our people have refused to admit the reasons for our fears, we will never be able to address them. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are in a religious war – we have been since before Sept. 11 – and we are losing. The enemy has a unifying cause, but we are divided multiple times over – we even boast in our “diversity.”
Comparing the Two
But since this blog deals with legalism (from time to time), I thought today would be a perfect day to point out a painful similarity between terrorism and legalism: fear.
Fear is what keeps the faithful faithful. Those in legalistic environments dare not challenge the status quo for fear of being ostracized, stigmatized, or being separated from fellowship. Even if someone felt it perfectly acceptable to go to a movie, one dare not be seen going to the theater. The woman that wears pants at home wouldn’t dare wear them outside – someone in the church might call them “liberal.”
(The following was added after the original post in response to a tweet) Pants? Movies? Thousands die after the towers fall and all I have to compare it with are pants and movies? To be honest, I wrote the above paragraph while choking back anger and carefully trying to choose my words. I lived for 30 years in fear of others. I saw my father degraded, belittled, and blackballed. I nearly took my own life when I finally felt I could no longer live up to the legalistic expectations of not only others, but myself. Pants and movies were only the tip of the iceberg.
Fear…however it is used to control the actions of others…whether imposed by others or by one’s self…that’s my point.
Legalism is oppressive, freedom-stealing violence against grace.
Legalism, like terrorism, kills.