Tag Archives: Fear

Don’t Let Fear Mislead You To Hatred

fearThere is a lot of fear in our world right now. What’s sad to me is seeing how fear is moving people, even Christian people, to say and do hateful things. But even worse, they are finding ways to justify their hatred. Self-preservation is the excuse for rejecting a whole class of people.

Jesus said that we don’t have to fear this world because he has overcome the world.  Because of that, we can risk preferring others, even at our own expense.

People are Watching

If you’ve made yourself known as a Christian, people are watching to see how you respond under duress: will you trust God and speak words of hope and grace? Or will you allow fear to move you to become self-preserving and hateful?

I’m seeing posts online that are very provocative…meaning the words and images are meant to PROVOKE you to react (more than usual). People seem to think they can win others over with clichéd and inflammatory quotes. But they more often offend than win over. When was the last time someone changed your mind by shaming you?

Reducing complex issues to a sound bite only reveals that they don’t have a grasp of the issue. Reasoned dialogue please.

Watch Your Words

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, can I ask you to think twice before you speak, and three times before you post something potentially provocative and divisive that only promotes a limited view?

My big concern is that Jesus followers misrepresent the heart of God to a world that desperately needs him. Let’s not risk turning someone away from God for the momentary pleasure of spouting off our viewpoint.

Please ask yourself, “Am I posting to honor God and promote peace and goodwill, or am I posting to promote my viewpoint and take a jab at the fools that disagree with me?” Or put another way, do your words build up or tear down?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-31

When you feel fear spiking within you (often disguised as a strong sense of self-righteous indignation), that’s the time to pray and ask God to give you HIS mind to do and say something constructive…something that adds to the discussion and offers a solution.  Polarizing people doesn’t help. Some notable politicians are doing that and it’s disappointing to see Christians support them.

Jesus said we are to be known for our love. That’s what sets us apart from the world and points people to God. Our job is to promote HIS agenda, not ours.

We need peace more this Christmas than ever. Let’s be a people who turn to God for that peace and not react in fear, causing people to separate rather than move toward each other. If we want to be like Jesus, let’s work at bringing people together.

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Five Ways to Face the Fear of Change

We all face change. You can’t avoid it. Because of that, we all face the fear of change.fear of change

Change is built into our life experience as we make natural transitions from one stage of life to the next. We move from grade school to middle school. From middle school to high school. From high school to college.

Then we move from college to career (hopefully) and then possibly to marriage. Some of us will have kids and those that do eventually face the transition to an empty nest. We experience the change of our parents aging and eventually losing them. And then we face retirement and, of course, the ultimate transition: death.

These are just the normal changes. There are all the other changes that life throws at you: both good and bad: promotions and layoffs, divorce and remarriage. There’s financial and health setbacks as well as comebacks. We change our homes. We change our locations. And there are the changes that take place when we lose a loved one.

The Fear of Change

Every change evokes its own special set of fears because we’re not so sure we’re going to LIKE what’s on the other side of change. And maybe worse yet, we’re not so sure we’ll be able to HANDLE the change. We’re afraid that we won’t prove to be as competent as we are on this side. Or we fear we won’t be as successful or attractive or comfortable or have as much control as we do now. We fear that change will put a spotlight on our greatest weakness. The fear of change can stop us cold.

Resisting Change

Because of these fears we often resist change. When we are comfortable we’ll do just about anything we can to avoid change. We’ll ignore it. We’ll drag our feet. We’ll definitely complain about it. We’ll attack the person leading change. We’ll even try to sabotage change. But in spite of our best efforts, some change is unavoidable. For this reason we need to learn how to face the change as well as the fear of change.

I recently spoke a message on facing the fear of change by looking at the change that Jesus brought to his followers. You can read or listen to the entire message here. But I’ll share the main points with you:

How to Face the Fear of Change

  1. Anticipate change. A lot of change we should see coming. I know parents that melt down when their kids leave for college. But really, didn’t they see that change coming? I realize that some change comes out of nowhere. But much of it can be anticipated. So stay alert. Look down the road and prepare for the obvious. 

    We fear that change will put a spotlight on our greatest weakness. The fear of change can stop us cold.

  2. Understand God’s perspective on change. God is never surprised. He’s never unprepared. He has Plan B, C, and Z waiting. He’s never boxed in. He can make good out of anything. So see things from God’s perspective and then…
  3. Trust God. I know. That’s practically a cliche. But change is the best time to have your faith tested. Now or never. What have you got to lose? Sit back and watch God give you what you need to handle the change. No matter what the change is that you are facing today, God’s got your back.  You might not trust your new setting or circumstances but you can always trust God to be with you and to help you through your time of change.
  4. Focus on the gains and grieve the losses. Both are important. Don’t look for the sky to fall. Expect God to come through for you…maybe not like you’d like…but ending on top of the pile and not under it. Yet that doesn’t mean there won’t be any losses. You need to grieve your losses and not just fake your way through it. That approach will come back to haunt you.
  5. Embrace the change. Some people let change paralyze them. They refuse to move forward.  People do this all the time. Think about the college student that is so afraid of change that she just sits in her dorm room Facebooking her high schools friends back home rather than engage in her new college life. Or think of the new dad that is so afraid of being a bad dad that he turns over all of the parenting responsibilities to his wife.  Max Lucado says this about facing change: make friends with whatever’s next. Embrace it. Accept it. Don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. FEARLESS

Your Defining Moment

Whatever the change is in front of you, it might be a defining moment in your life. God might be calling you to do something that will change your life forever. This could be your turning point. So don’t shrink back. Don’t miss the opportunity. God will be with you in your change and he’ll show you the good things about the change, if you let him.

Question: What has helped you face and overcome your fear? Leave your comment below.

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Fear of the Worst-Case Scenario

I’m continuing my thoughts on facing your fear. Today I want to look at the fear of the worst-case scenario. I recently spoke a message relating the Old Testament story of King Jehoshaphat. If you want the detail of the story you can download the audio or full text here.

Facing the Fear of the Worst-Case Scenario

The story begins by relating how Israel came under a surprise attack. Worse yet, three armies combined and they were just a few miles away. Israel had no time to plan or prepare. Most people would have panicked. But the king took a different path. Here are six lessons that might help you face your fear.

1. Turn to God…immediately.

When faced with a threat, we often think the worst: we get a bad health report and we immediately fear cancer. We have a fight with our spouse and we think divorce. Our child gets caught with drugs and we imagine a life addicted to heroin.  

Fear puts you on a one way flight to the worst-case scenario and the in-flight movie is a horror flick about the end of your life as you know it. 

Fear puts you on a one way flight to the worst-case scenario and the in-flight movie is a horror flick about the end of your life as you know it.

But the king of Israel didn’t get on that plane. Instead, he turned to God. He wasn’t afraid to get spiritual. He wasn’t too cool. He got down right desperate. He called the whole country together to pray and fast. Some times prayers of desperation are the best thing you can do.

2. Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness.

The king prayed this prayer: Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?  The king knew what God was capable of doing. He faced his fear by remembering what God did in times past. He put the present threat in perspective by recalling that God had given them this land. Why would he allow them to lose it now?

3. Admit you are powerless.

The king continued to pray a prayer that few people dare to pray but is central to Alcoholics Anonymous: For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. Step One of A. A. says: “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable.” You have to let go of your control before you can fully allow God to take control.

4. Move toward the problem.

In response to the king’s prayer, God said: march down against them. Say what? Yo, God…we’veworst-case scenario got nothing to fight with. We will be sitting ducks. Too often our fear causes us to run away or attack. God says, neither. Face your enemy.

What’s your enemy today? BETRAYAL? DIVORCE? BANKRUPTCY? DEPRESSION? CANCER? SUICIDE? God said: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Whatever your enemy is, let God fight for you.

5. Praise God before the battle. Not after.

As Israel’s enemy approached, the king called his people to praise God. What a suicidal thing to do. But amazingly, when the people praised God, the enemy became confused and succumbed to “friendly fire.” When it was all over, the enemy was defeated and God’s people were left unscathed.

6. Expect a blessing.

The people of Israel went into the battle expecting genocide. But when it was all said and done,  Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies…So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides. 2 Chronicles 20

Whatever trouble you face today, God wants to give you rest on every side. Don’t allow yourself to fear the worst-case scenario.  Consider what might happen if you turn to God and let him fight your battle. You might walk away with a blessing rather than devastation.

Question: How have you faced your fear?

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Finding Your Significance in God’s Love

In my last post I looked at the fear of insignificance. I quoted the Bible verse that tells us how God’s perfect love drives out fear and gives us significance. I want to add more to that thought today.

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

Another verse that helps me understand the unconditional nature of God’s love is ths:

God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world …he predestined us to be adopted as his children…Ephesians 1:4,5

I love this verse because it tells me that God didn’t choose me based on my performance. He fear of insignificancechose me before I had a chance to do good or bad.

If you are a parent, you can appreciate this. Think about it: when did you first love your child? Did you wait to see how they looked? Did you wait to see if they did their homework or mowed the lawn? I mean, if you wait until your kids live up to your expectations before you love them…you may never love them!

No, you loved them before they had a chance to perform, right?  You loved them just because they came from your own body. You didn’t love them because of their great significance. They were significant to your just because they were yours. In other words…their significance didn’t come from WHO they were (great performers) but WHOSE they were (yours). 

God doesn’t love you because you were important. You’re important because God loves you.

That’s what God is saying in the verse above. God didn’t choose you based on your qualifications, or resume, or spirituality, or looks, or family. He chose you unconditionally…simply because he loves you.  God doesn’t love you because you were important. You’re important because God loves you.

Adopted by God

Look at this verse again. The word “adopted” is a great metaphor.  I’m told that when you seek to adopt you can tell the agency some general characteristics that you are willing to accept. For example, you can ask for a certain age or race or level of disabilities. Or you can say, “I’ll take any child you give me.”  You accept them without condition. That’s what God did with us. It’s like God said, You don’t have to show me their file. I don’t care about what they have or haven’t done; history, blood lines, challenges. I accept them and love them just the way they are. 

Whatever it is you fear, no matter how insignificant you feel, God loves you and he’s with you. This seems so simple to me but it’s fundamental to overcoming your fear.  You have to know this and be convinced of this. Your significance doesn’t come from impressing people with your Italian jeans or your new car. Your significance comes from being loved by God. You need to rest in that. Saturate yourself in the knowledge of God’s love and let it push out every drop of fear from your heart.

The key to our acceptance comes in the brief phrase “in Christ.” To learn more about that read or listen to the full message, Facing the Fear of Insignificance by clicking the link.

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Facing the Fear of Insignificance

insignificance

Facing the Fear of Insignificance

I’m continuing my discussion on fear. I’ve been reading Max Lucado’s book, FEARLESS, and he says this about being insignificant

Do we matter? We fear we don’t. We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. We fear coming and going and no one knowing.

That’s why it bothers us when a friend forgets to call or the teacher forgets our name or a colleague takes credit for something we’ve done or the airline loads us like cattle onto the next flight. They are affirming our deepest trepidation: no one cares, because we aren’t worth caring about.

Then he connects the fear of insignificance to some of our behavior:

For that reason we crave the attention of our spouse or the affirmation of our boss, drop names of important people in conversations, wear college rings on our fingers, and put silicone in our breasts, flashy hubcaps on our cars, grids on our teeth, and silk ties around our necks…

Fashion redeems us from the world of littleness and nothingness, and we are something else. Why? Because we spent half a paycheck on a pair of Italian jeans.  Max Lucado. FEARLESS

He’s right isn’t he?  I mean, think of the billions and billions of dollars that go to make us feel better about ourselves. With hair alone, just think about how much money goes to we cut it, color it, plug it, etc. 

We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. Max Lucado

The fear of insignificance moves us to not only spend money on things we don’t need, it causes us to seek out winners with whom we can identify. We try to live vicariously through important people: entertainers and sports figures. If we can’t be important we simply attach ourselves to someone who is. 

Insignificance and the Fear Cycle

Our fear of insignificance often spins in a cycle. We feel insignificant so we do something desperate to feel good about ourselves. But that often backfires and makes us feel even more insignificant. For example, you might buy a new car to fit in with your friends but it gets repossessed because you can’t make the payments. Your friends find out about it and you feel smaller than before.

Max Lucado gives another example:

Consider the girl who is asked out on a date by a good-looking guy. So good-looking that she wonders what he sees in her. He’s out of her league. Once he gets to know her, he’ll drop her. Why, she may not be able to maintain his interest for one evening. Insecurity drives her to use the only tool she trusts, her body. She sleeps with him on the first date for fear that there won’t be a second. She ends up feeling like the disposable woman she didn’t want to become.  Max Lucado. FEARLESS

It’s sad when this happens. We end up being our own worst enemy.

So how do we face this fear of insignificance? One of Jesus’ followers explained how God’s love addresses our fear:

God is love…There is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear… John 4:7,18 (The Bible)

Think about that; if you can experience perfect love, it can eliminate fear in your life. Is that too good to be true?  I’ll finish my thought on this in my next post. I hope you come back.

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How to Overcome Fear with Faith: Part Two

This is part two to How to Overcome Fear with Faith. I’ve been looking at the story of Jesus being arrested to learn three things. I mentioned that fear is like darkness, it lies to us, and it turns us into control freaks. Max Lucado agrees. He says in his book, FEARLESS:

Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. It unleashes a swarm of doubts, anger-stirring doubts. And it turns us into control freaks.

Fear tells us that God’s not in control. You can’t trust him. You need to do something: fast.

Fight or Flight

Psychologists talk about the fight or flight syndrome. When faced with fear we either attack the threat or run from it.  Jesus’ disciples did both. At first, one of them pulls out a sword and starts to fight. When Jesus protests, they all desert him.overcome fear

Fear makes us do something…anything…that gives us sense of gaining back our control. But what does that say about God? It says we don’t think he cares. It says we don’t think he can intervene in our lives: WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING because clearly God won’t.

Really? Is that true?  Or could it just be that we’re a little too impatient?

The Great Robber

When we lie to ourselves about God, the fourth thing happens: Fear robs from us.  It almost robbed the disciples of their calling.  It caused ten men to desert Jesus, one to deny him and the twelfth man to betray him before committing suicide. That’s the fruit of fear.

Plus, it almost robbed the world of good news. What Jesus did for us was great. But what good is it if no one knows about it?  It’s like; what good is the free meal at the soup kitchen if no one knows about it?

I wonder what’s been stolen from you over the years?

What battles were never fought? What victories were never won?

What relationships were never formed?

What careers were never started?   

What adventures were never launched?

What ideas were never developed?

What hobbies were never explored or enjoyed?

Or which of the above were started but then abandoned? Max Lucado calls fear:

the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. For all the noise it makes and room it takes, fear does little good. Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors. Wouldn’t it be great to walk out?  

I wonder if you’ve been herded into a prison and had the door slammed shut. What’s scaring you? What lies are robbing from you?

God’s in Control

Jesus walked out of that tomb on Easter, he showed his disciples that he was in control all along. He was in control when he sweat blood. He was in control when he was arrested. He was in control when he was beaten. And he was still in control when he was crucified. There was nothing to fear.

The same is true for whatever trouble you are facing now. God is in control. Fall into his arms and trust that he will carry you through. Life may be different on the other side, but it can still be good.

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How to Overcome Your Fear with Faith

I recently started a series called Facing Your Fear. I’m going to share bits and pieces of it in the coming weeks. You can listen or read the entire messages by visiting my church’s website.

Fear is About the Unknown

Fear is an interesting topic because we all face it whether we realize it or not. We all have our means of coping with fear. Fear is driven by the unknown and there are a LOT of things we don’t know. For example: we don’t know what the economy is going to do. Five years ago we saw the economy tank, many people lost their jobs and their savings. As a result some of us fear that will happen again. We wait for the other shoe to drop.overcoming fear

Or, if you have someone with an addiction in your family, you don’t know where that’s headed. I work with people in addiction and both the addict and the family live with a lot of fear. They aren’t sure about the future…if it will lead to recovery or another relapse is lurking around the corner.

When I read again the story of Jesus’ arrest the night before he was killed I noticed a few things about fear from the response of his followers. I’ll share them over the next few posts.

Fear is Like Darkness

The first thing I noticed is that fear is like darkness. I think Jesus was arrested at night because darkness is a symbol of fear. There’s something scary about the dark. Why is that?

It’s probably a few things. What happens in the dark? You lose your markers.  In the light you know where everything is. You can see where you are going and what to avoid.  But without those markers, you lose control.  Doubt rushes in. You aren’t sure you remember where the obstacles are. Suddenly you feel vulnerable. It makes you slow down or even freeze up for fear of making the wrong move.  In the book, FEARLESS, Max Lucado says this about fear:

We fear being sued, finishing last, going broke; we fear the mole on the back, the new kid on the block, the sound of the clock as it ticks us closer to the grave.

His words remind me of what a friend of mine told me recently. His dad was 30 years older than he is. He said when his dad died at 86 it was like someone set a 30-year timer. He feels the years ticking down and he said, Remy, It scares the hell out of me. Fear does that. Fear is like darkness. It wraps around you and suffocates you.

Fear Lies About the Future

The second thing about fear is that it lies to you about your future. When Jesus was arrested, what do you think the disciples told themselves? We’re going to jail. We’re gonna die. It’s over. We’re all fools. What were we thinking? How could we have been so stupid to follow that impostor? You see, fear extrapolates everything into the worst case scenario.  But Jesus spoke directly to their thought life:

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Matthew 26

 What was Jesus saying? He was saying…You guys are in fear because you believe a lie. You don’t think I’m the Son of God. You think I have no power…that I’m not in control. But the truth is… I am the Son of God, in fact, if I asked God to help me now he could send 12,000 angels in a heart beat. So relax. Everything’s going to be okay. 

That’s what Jesus would say to you too. Whatever has got you paralyzed, acting out, or on the run today: Relax. He’s in control. There’s not situation that he can’t pull you out of one way or another. He may not “fix” your life the way you want it. Some consequences to your past actions may need to be played out. But he’ll be with you. He can make your life good: both now…in the problem…as well as in the future, when the problem has passed. And it will pass.

What is it that causes the most fear in your life? What lies does fear speak to you? Leave your comment below. Thanks.

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