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The Fear of Man

You know when you are at Bible study early (some of you don’t know anything about this) and everyone is just hanging around, fellowshipping? There’s usually food, lots of stories to tell, and loads of laughter. Finally someone will call the group to order to start the study. Plates of snacks and cups of drinks are gathered along with Bibles and notebooks. You all sit down and the room-echoing, inevitable question comes: “Does someone want to open us in prayer?” Silence. The atmosphere that just a minute ago was teeming with life is now dead.

Dear Church, why don’t we love to pray?

Some person, (probably one of the same 2 or 3 that usually do) will eventually volunteer to pray and study begins. Maybe you have a study guide you are following or maybe you all simply read through part of God’s Word and have gathered to discuss it. “What did you all think of this week’s reading?” Silence. Deafening Silence.

Beloved Church, why don’t we LOVE and LONG to talk about our Savior?

Why is Christ not our favorite topic? Why are our conversations around God’s Word not as passionate and robust as those we have about food, news, sports, music, taxes, politics, books, etc? Why does it feel like we have to drag people kicking and screaming to have a full conversation?

I think a lot of it has to do with fear. Specifically, fear of man. We are so concerned about how our prayers sound to those listening that we forget about the God we are praying to. We forget that we really should be mindful of what he thinks and remember that he not only hears us but sees our heart attitudes and motives. Our friends don’t even compare.

We don’t answer questions in Bible study because what if our answer is wrong? What will people think if they find out we don’t know it all? So we sit with our mouths shut and agree with the other people talking instead. I can say with honesty that some of the best discussions I’ve had in studies are when people didn’t know the answer to something. It means we all had to look at the text deeper and think harder. And some of the most genuine prayers have come from broken hearts that stumble through their words.

Fear of man has paralyzed people. Not just in Bible study but that’s the area I’m focusing on today. Proverbs 29:25 says:

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Do you see how this kind of fear is a snare? It’s a trust issue. Have you made people bigger than God in your mind? Do their opinions matter more than his? Are you all caught up in pleasing people or are you trusting in the only One who can keep you safe?

The bigger our view of God is, the smaller man looks.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in Bible

 

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Good News of Great Joy

It’s finally here! No more waiting! Resurrection Day has arrived in all its joy and wonder.

There are so many things that stand out to me about the accounts of the resurrection. I love how Mary is kept from recognizing Jesus when asking about his body. I love how it’s not until he speaks her name that she suddenly knows who is before her. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.

I love how Jesus walks with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. How he patiently goes through Scripture and explains it to them. I wish I could have been there for that! What a conversation that must have been! It reminds me that all of Scripture points to Christ.

I love how Jesus starts referring to the disciples as his brothers after he rises. He has broken the power of sin. He has conquered death and the curtain is torn. Welcome, brothers.

There are two words that seem to describe every person’s reaction to the resurrection in Scripture. The first is fear. Anyone who saw the angels was afraid. Sometimes it’s almost a stubborn fear and disbelief: THERE’S NO WAY. Testimony of seeing the risen Savior was rarely believed until it was confirmed.

But the other phrase that comes up in the Bible a lot is GREAT JOY. In Matthew, the women who came to the tomb, didn’t see Jesus, but departed with fear and great joy! They believed! Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Because friends, if we stayed in that darkness of Tenebrae, what joy do we have? If our Savior never rose, what hope is there for us? That’s not good news at all.

But he did. What wild, unimaginable joy and hope is ours! Celebrate today and every day because we serve a risen Savior.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2020 in holiday

 

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What are you afraid of?

This is kind of a follow up to my last post so if you didn’t read that one yet, you might want to start there.

I shared before how it’s hard for me to find time to get a deep enough conversation going so that I can witness to my co-workers. BUT I do have one thing going for me. At my old job, we had these “Random questions of the Day” that we would ask each other in the office. It was super fun and they ranged from really shallow, (If you could only wear one set of clothes for the rest of your life, what outfit would you pick?) to fairly deep, (What is one passage of Scripture that you don’t understand or confuses you?) 

I found that it’s a really good way to get to know another person and to start conversations so on the very first day of my new job, I started asking “Random Questions of the Day.” It’s to the point now where some of my co-workers will very determinedly find me and ask ME what the question is if I don’t ask them first. It’s also pretty handy because it’s an intentional way to get to know another person without them really realizing it.

So, one day last week my question that I thought of just happened to be, “What is something you are afraid of?” I had gotten several answers such as spiders, the dark, etc. I was close to being done for the day and excited to leave because I had several places to be that evening and needed to leave right after work. I was hurriedly cleaning up some dishes in the meat department when one of my co-workers (who is probably the most persistent about the Question) came in to tell me his answer after thinking about it for a while.

“I have my answer.”

I looked up absent-mindedly. “Oh ok. What is something you are afraid of?”

“Dying.”

I can’t quite explain the feeling that came over me. It felt like someone had smacked me upside the head with a board but at the same time a door was flung open right in front of me. Considering all the other answers I had received (and that my answer was snakes), this was totally unexpected. I believe I whispered, “Oh, Jesus” in my head. Outwardly I was cool as a cucumber.

Feeling the weight of my words and knowing exactly where they would lead me, I asked, “Why are you afraid of dying?” He explained that he had done a lot of dumb stuff and could have died.

Me: “Do you know where you would go when you die? What do you think happens when you die?” I have already had conversations with this young man (he’s actually only 15) and knew that he was unsaved and didn’t know anything about the Lord.

Him: Well, with me it could go either way, I guess.

Me: …slowly… “What do you think is the determining factor as to where you go? What determines if you go to heaven or not?”

He did not have an answer. I inhaled slowly and shared the only way to get to heaven. Standing in the meat room, washing dishes, I told this young man about salvation and hope. I told him there was only one way to be rid of a fear of death.

And then he was called to the front and it was time for me to clock out. But I have been praying for him and for the other girl who was walking in and out of our conversation, listening the whole time. Praying for God to change their hearts.

Hmmm…how very simple it was and yet how very hard at the same time. I felt like my face was on fire and my brain was going to explode. In that moment, I truly did not see a person standing before me but an eternal and LOST soul! And I think the weight of that was a little overwhelming. But praise God for putting some words in my mouth for once! What an answer to prayer!

[Side note: As I was rushing quickly out of the store because I was then running late, one of the other girls asked me what the Question was. I quickly told her and she instantly replied that she was afraid of not being able to achieve greatness in life. I hesitated for a moment and I’m pretty sure my thought was, “Lord, I LITERALLY do not have time, strength, or energy to do this again today!” Fortunately these questions are also easy to come back to and I plan to follow up on that one too. What a difference one small, intentional, question can make!]

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in witness

 

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The Fear of Seizures

You know I think a lot of people live with fear. Fear of spiders, of snakes (which is a completely rational fear), fear of burglars, etc. But there is another kind of fear that I never knew about until this year and it resides deep inside a person.

When I had my first seizures on that day in April, I told the doctor that right before they happened my body had a sense of fear. And I couldn’t explain it. It is like my body knew what was about to come and was already afraid, although my mind was clueless as to what was going on. There was this sense of fear and impending doom right before the actual seizure came and my body tensed up.

As the summer progressed, the fear got worse. I learned different things that triggered my seizures and for me, those things were sounds and vibrations. I think it would be a little easier if they were triggered by flashing lights or something like that but it is really hard to control was you hear. For instance, during the summer, some friends and I went to see Finding Dory when it came out. There was a certain part of that movie that had a sound in it and that was the first time that I found something that actually brought on a seizure. I had never been so sure of anything before- but I knew that sound had caused that seizure. And I still haven’t re-watched that movie- because I’m afraid to. Here’s another example. I do a lot of laminating in the office during the summer and I actually like to laminate. One of my favorite things to do is wait for the laminator to heat up and then lay my arms and head down on it because it’s really warm and cozy. Did you know laminators also make a buzzing noise and they vibrate? It wasn’t a good combination and instantly I had a seizure.

It was terrible to suddenly have all these everyday things becoming things to be afraid of. Things like hearing motorcycles, watching firecrackers, or having someone bounce their leg on the same bench as me. One day, I got online to read about things that could cause seizures and just reading about them triggered one in me. Even writing this post I have had to stop several times. Slowly I slipped into living in fear. Fear of all the things that were causing me or could cause me to have seizures.

If you have never had a seizure, you can’t imagine what they feel like. And mine are very mild. I could have one while talking in a group and probably no one would notice. The build up to them is terrible. It feels like you have a knife hanging over your head. A feeling of dread and impending doom. That feeling might last an hour and the seizure may never even come or it might just be a few minutes. And then the seizure itself comes and all my muscles tense up as tight as they can for a moment or two and then relax. It almost hurts. It hurts my head. Usually I am so tired afterwards that I just want to sleep forever. At one point in time, I was having 10-15 of these a day.

Can you imagine that fear? During that time (I was able to read more again), the Psalms came alive to me in a way they never have before. David was afraid a lot. And I mean a lot. And he wasn’t ashamed of it; he recorded it at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He knew where to turn to when he felt fear and he encourages us to do the same.

I’m not going to copy all of Psalm 55  here (I do encourage you to read the whole thing!) but let me pull out parts of verses for you:

“Give ear to my prayer, oh God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy…I am restless…My heart is in anguish within me…Fear and trembling come upon me…”

These verses explain how David was feeling at this point in his life and they perfectly describe how I felt also. Then you get to David’s solution:

“But I call to God, and the Lord will save me…he hears my voice…He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage…Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you…”

This Psalm was such a comfort to me! To realize that even David felt anguish and fear but he knew where to fly for comfort. He knew that his comfort came from the assurance that God held his soul in his hand and I came to know that as well.

That in the end, no matter what happens to my body, my soul is safe.

 

(You are currently reading a post in a series called The2016Story. If you have jumped in in the middle and would like to start at the beginning, click HERE.)

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in The2016Story

 

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