Tag Archives: fear

You Get What You Ask For

Be careful what you pray for. You might just get it. 

When we pray, we are encouraged to pray for what we want and to be willing to follow the will of God whatever the outcome. But what if the will of God isn’t what He gives us? What if He gives us what we wanted even if that means he has to work a different outcome?

God had a plan for Israel, but they wanted a king, so he gave them one. It wasn’t exactly pleasant for the Israelites, but they got what they wanted, and eventually God worked out His will for them anyway. 

We just voted in a new president. Many churches prayed for the outcome of his election. Many Christians prayed specifically for Trump to win, but is that what the church needed? 

The American church is weak. The American church largely functions like a 40 year old bible nerd that still lives in his mom’s basement. 

Where is evangelism? Where are wonderful works of the Holy Spirit? Where are those strong in the faith who are able to speak truth without fear of their fellow man? Where are the “greater things than these” that Jesus promised we’d do?

Yes, there are preachers and some Christians who function this way, but this is not the norm. 

If the American church functions largely to put on Sunday morning bible classes and worship assemblies, then she has missed the call of the New Testament. 

The American church is full of people who claim to be Christians but don’t even know what Christ said about how to live. They look just like the world and cower at the concept of being blunt enough to tell others about the dangers of sin and the need for a savior. They don’t want to be seen as religious “nuts” and work hard to be cool according to the world’s standards. 

When has the church been strong? The church was strong under the persecution of the Jews, Pagans, and Romans in the first three centuries. The church is still strong in places where persecution is more than just a hateful glance or derogatory comment. The church is strong where there are threats of prison and death. 

Why? Because if you’re still going to choose the way of Christ in such circumstances, you’re going to have to be truly filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. There are no partial Christians in places like that. There are no “Sunday morning only” Christians in that culture. 

Perhaps what the American church needs is some persecution. Maybe she needs to lose some of her rights in this nation. Maybe her members need to be threatened in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. God has done it before. One day, He will do it again. 

I pray for President-Elect Trump and his staff. I pray for our nation. I pray especially for the church – that she begins to pray prayers more like Acts 4 – prayers of boldness and not protection; prayers of courage in the Spirit of Christ.

It’s well past time for Christians in this nation to come back to the Christ they claim with their lips but deny with their lifestyle. It’s time for the church to be a bastion of love in a world gone mad with fear and hatred. It’s time for the church to stop being “of convenience” and start being actually “of Christ”. 

What are you going to do to help the church be what Jesus calls her to be? Change starts with me, and it starts with you. 


Asleep in the Boat

Jesus sleepingIt was a dark and stormy night…

Sounds like Snoopy is writing again, eh?

Seriously, the Apostles are in the boat and the wind and waves have picked up because of the storm.  Where is Jesus? Asleep in the bottom of the boat.  HOW CAN HE SLEEP DURING THIS STORM?!

There is much fear on the boat tonight.  They can’t make any headway, and the boat is in danger of capsizing. It seems perfectly logical to be afraid during such a storm in quite a small boat.

Once, when I was a boy, I was fishing on Bull Shoals Lake in North Arkansas with my grandparents.  All of a sudden a huge storm came over the lake.  Waves were crashing over the sides of the bass boat.  Rain was coming down in sheets stinging our faces.  The closest land was an island with rocks on the shoreline – no sand.  We pulled close to shore, and Grandpa put us on the bank while we rode the storm out.  We could see the boat dock but couldn’t make it there because of the ferocity of the storm on the water.

I remember being scared, but only a little, because I trusted my Grandpa.

Jesus is still sleeping.  How can he have such peace during this storm?

The disciples wake Jesus with a jolt.  “Don’t you care if we drown?” They were in the boat with the Creator of the universe, but they didn’t understand. The didn’t yet know the true identity of the One who could sleep during a fierce storm.

Jesus got up and said, “Peace. Be still.”

That’s what I want in me – peace.  Don’t you?

The apostles were afraid because all they could see was the power of the storm they were in at the moment.  They had more trust in the storm than in the One sleeping in the bottom of the boat.  It shocked them that Jesus was able to take charge of the storm the way He did.  Then Jesus scolded them. “Oh you of little faith.  Why are you so afraid?”

Why are you so afraid?

We are afraid because in the storms of life, even though we claim allegiance to the Father, we still struggle for control and therefore put our trust more in the storms than in the One who is bigger than the storm. We put more trust in the chaos than the Creator.  We put more faith in what we see than our Father who loves us and has promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When we find our identity as children of God, of the Father, of Abba (daddy), then what can stir our peace?

Think of the baby sleeping in his or her father’s arms.  Isn’t that peace?

Jesus said that unless we become like little children we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are little children when we put our trust in our Father instead of the storm.  He’s bigger than any storm you can experience.  He may not take you out of the storm, but He promises to bring you peace and comfort through it as you trust in Him and listen to the Spirit living within you.

The more I surrender my selfishness to a life filled with the presence of the Father the more I find peace.  If you want that peace, you can find it too.  If you want to discuss this more feel free to let me know.  I’m always interested in helping others along this path we walk together.  Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…and life in the Kingdom is so much more fulfilling.


Ten Phrases that Stunt Church Growth

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A healthy church is a church that is actively trying to reach out into their community and share the gospel with the world around them. Most churches say they want to grow, but are they really in the mindset to facilitate that growth?

Our words have huge implications on our actions for our words reflect the attitudes that inspire what we do. If we speak negatively it is because we are thinking negatively. Positive words come from a heart with positive motivations. A positive person is much more likely to succeed at any venture than a negative one.

As we seek to help the church grow we must remember that our words have bearing on our success. I’ve compiled a list of ten phrases that hurt a church’s ability to grow. These phrases can be said by the members, but they are especially harmful if the leadership begins to reflect these things.

#10 We don’t want to be like THEM
The head of the church should be Jesus. The guide for the church should be the scriptures. If we are scared to follow the scriptures because of it making us look like another group of Christians then that will keep us from following the truth. Worse yet, we have freedom in Christ. If we are unwilling to exercise our freedom out of fear of being associated with another denomination then that shows our lack of unity within the body of Christ. New people who see this are repelled at our lack of vision and lack of love for those who are our brothers and sisters.

Instead of allowing this phrase to control our thinking we need to follow the guidance of the Spirit. As we follow His lead, He will guide the church to follow the desires of Jesus. When that happens growth is inevitable for it is the will of Christ that everyone is reached for the sake of the gospel.

#9 Who are all these new people?
This phrase may seem counter-intuitive. I mean, if you’re having new people then aren’t you growing? Yes, a church that has new people is growing, but if the established membership isn’t taking the time to invest in relationships with these new people then they will soon be gone. People leave the church for a myriad of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that they don’t belong – there’s no way for them to get plugged in.

In our desire to grow we must close the proverbial back door. If our core group isn’t actively engaging our new members and visitors beyond just the superficial “Hey, my name is…” on Sunday morning then we are maintaining a clique.

Instead of asking who these new people are, why not go meet them? Invite them to lunch. Invite them to your house. Spend more than ten minutes visiting with them. Then see how they blossom as members.

#8 THEY tried this and it didn’t work out
It’s very common for churches to look at programming and ideas that other congregations or groups have tried. In the process of doing that we often see not just the success stories but the things that failed as well. This doesn’t mean that the program or idea won’t work with your church; it just means that it didn’t work for them. By the nature of the fact that you have different people than “they” do you will have a different outcome.

So much of our endeavors have to begin with faith. Do we believe that this is the direction God is leading us? If so, then He will help us succeed. If it is not then it will fail.

Failure doesn’t have to be a problem either. A church that is actively trying new things to reach out to the community is showing that they care for the community. If an idea fails it’s OK. The community still sees that the church is trying. What really matters is what we do with that failure. If we use it to make excuses to not try something new then we have truly failed. If we use it to start again by learning from our mistakes then the failure is actually a success.

#7 I wish SOMEONE would do ______
Fill in the blank. There are so many things to do. If you look around I’m sure you’ll see opportunities to serve, opportunities for outreach, and opportunities to help others grow. Each of these opportunities is a gift that has been given to you. God has created YOU with a vision for those needs.

When we look to someone else to fill the needs that God has shown us then we have effectively shut down God’s plan for that vision. If the people within a church are looking to the preacher or the leadership to do everything then they are crippling the potential for the church to be an active, living organism.

The apostle, Paul, wrote several times about the church being a body, and each part has a job to do. You have a purpose. There are things, needs, that only you will see. If you don’t do those things – if you don’t meet those needs – then they will probably be forgotten and never accomplished. Don’t pass the buck. Don’t procrastinate hoping someone else will do it. When the whole church is working together in a myriad of purposes and services then there is health as all the needs are being met. That is a church that will grow because everyone has a part to play. That church will grow numerically, but even more importantly, it will grow spiritually as it begins to look like the bride of the greatest servant who ever lived, Jesus.

#6 I’m not sure they’re dependable enough
As a church grows the new members will inevitably want to get involved. This is healthy and vital for the church to function as a church. It is important for those who have been around for a long time to get to know the new people. It is also important for those new people to be plugged in where they are needed and where their gifts are.

When a new person comes in it can be an awkward transitionary time within the church. The leadership wants to protect the flock and make sure it gets fed, and the new people want to get involved.

One of the greatest things anyone ever did for me was to go out on a limb and give me a responsibility that I had never taken on before. That responsibility took me out of the pew as a consumer and brought me into a ministry opportunity. I was in a sink or swim situation. The church that did that showed great faith in me. It was the beginning of my journey into ministry.

We need to be people of love, and love hopes for the best in other people. As we grow we must be willing to step out on that limb and give new people responsibility. We need to be empowering people to grow into leaders within the church. We need to have faith in the people around us.

I fail jesus daily, but he still calls me to be a minister of his gospel. I should treat others with that kind of faith in them. When I refuse to extend that faith in them I prove to them that I don’t truly love them, and that cripples a church.

#5 There’s no one to take our place
This phrase goes hand in hand with the last one and even the next one. If we don’t see the potential in others then we will not begin to shift the power and responsibility we’ve been given to the next generation of leaders. This cripples a church’s ability to move forward with fresh vision and relevant leadership.

If a leader at any level – teacher, maid, secretary, elder, deacon, preacher, volunteer, etc… – sees the potential for a vacuum if they were to quit, then they need to be actively training others to take their place. No one person needs to be irreplaceable in the church. It is not our job to make it so that the church couldn’t function without us. What we should all be doing is bringing people alongside us who see what we do and grow into being the next person to do our job. This is apprenticeship.

This requires us to have faith in others. It requires that invest into the lives of others. It requires us to not be thirsty for power or influence. Remember, you’re not the savior of your church, Jesus is.

#4 I’m tired…or…I’ve done my time
It you don’t have faith in other people, and you can’t see any potential for someone to take your place, then you probably feel tired. If you’ve taught Sunday school for twenty years you probably feel tired. But if the next generation is going to be trained to step in and give you relief then, first, you need to do one more thing – train.

We are all called to work hard as children of God to serve one another in love, but if you’re 29 or 99, and you still have breath and strength, you’re not finished with the work God has given you to do. This is why we look forward with great anticipation to the rest that God offers us in heaven. But we must not live as though we are already there. I’ve heard it said that some people are “so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”.

If you’re tired, hang in there. As you train people to take your place you’ll have a lighter load. One day you may even get to take a break, but don’t make it permanent. The church needs your talents.

Oh, and if you’re complaining that you’re tired and someone offers to take your place then give it to them. Church is not about holding on to power and authority. It’s not about position and politics. God is constantly raising up new generations of people to carry the torch that those who have come before have done so well to carry.

#3 We’ve always done it this way
Ok, first of all, no you haven’t. Everything was new at some point in time. So let’s be honest with this statement.

Second of all it is OK to like what we are doing. When what we are doing is not effective in reaching the lost for Jesus then what we are doing is NOT OK.

As new people come in to a church they are going to be trying to figure out what the unspoken traditions are of that church. For many of these new people these traditions will make no sense whatsoever. We need to be honest enough to recognize that traditions are just that – traditions. They’re not scriptural mandates.

A tradition is only good as long as it is effective. Making you feel good is not the standard to which effectiveness is measured.

Are the people growing spiritually? Is the church growing numerically? Are people being pointed to Jesus? Do the people love one another? If the answers to these questions is “yes” then great, but if they’re “no” then something has to change. Please, do not hijack the growth of the church by requiring it to never change. As the culture changes so do the ways the church needs to function in order to be able to speak to that culture. The message has to stay the same – the gospel never changes – but the methods need to be constantly evaluated for a church to continue to grow.

#2 We’ve never done that before
This phrase is similar to the last one, but it doesn’t just call out change of current traditions, it calls out new additions to programming or ideas – new traditions.

Jesus calls us to have faith. He also sent us His Spirit to be our guide. The Spirit cannot be put in a box or controlled. He guides the church as He sees need. We must be willing to try new things as the Spirit leads.

We also must remember that trying new things leads to new successes and failures. If the failures are learned from then they are successes as well. As long as the new thing doesn’t take the church away from the headship of Christ and the authority of His word then there is freedom to try new things.

A church that never tries new things is a church that is slipping further and further away from its ability to connect to people in the world today. Change is inevitable. If we don’t embrace it then the change that will eventually happen is the closing of our church doors.

#1 I’m afraid…
I saved this one for last because it is the summation of pretty much every other phrase in this list. If you think about it every other phrase is said because there is a fear of the unknown.

Jesus said multiple times, “don’t be afraid; just believe.” “Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He seems to put faith and fear as opposites of one another.

We claim to believe that God works in our lives daily. Romans 8:28 says he is working to make all things good – even our mistakes and failures. Do we believe it? If we do then we don’t have to be afraid. If we believe it then we can move forward into an unknown future with confidence that God will guide us and help us when we fail. If we have faith in Him then we remember that it is His church and not ours.

If you are functioning in fear, and you recognize that, then you may not be the best person to be in a leadership position at this time. Being careful is good, but being afraid of what may come is bad. A negative person speaking out of fear can bring the momentum of the church to a screeching halt.

Maybe you’re in a leadership role, and you’re afraid of what might come. You must be super-careful with your words. Use that fear to be thorough, but don’t allow that fear to be verbalized. Your words might catch on like wildfire and create fear in others. Remember, fear and faith are opposites.

Conclusion
Having worked in many churches over the years I’ve heard these phrases many times. This is not an exhaustive explanation of why each of these is detrimental to the church. It is just a taste. Most of you, however, can see without much effort why each of these ways of thinking is harmful.

Sure, there are dangers in the future. I absolutely believe that not everyone is trustworthy, but I want to find out who is and who is not by trusting them and allowing them to prove or disprove themselves outside my assumptions. I know we can’t do everything, and I know that some things aren’t healthy for the church, but if a church functions with an inward-focused, fear-driven mindset then it will cripple itself before it even has a chance.

I’m glad to see the church where I serve growing. Many of you are in growing churches, but I want us to be ever-mindful of just how easy it is for our minds to slip into places that will cause us to stunt the growth of the church.

Maybe you’ve thought of other phrases that show a crippling mindset in the church. Feel free to share them in the comments below. Maybe you disagree. That’s alright by me. These are just phrases I’ve heard in many places that are said by people who are unintentionally hurting the potential for growth in those places.

May the church that belongs to Jesus grow as people learn to love Him and love one another. May the church grow as it seeks new ways to engage individuals and communities. May the church grow as the faith of its members increases. And may we all grow into the image of Jesus as the Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out.


Why me, God?

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I’m a nobody.

There’s nothing overly special about me. I’m not stronger or smarter than the average person. I don’t have some kind of special knowledge. I don’t love better than others. I don’t sin less than anyone. I’m abundantly average.

In fact, I feel like I am weaker than most. I don’t know nearly all that I want to know, and my wisdom isn’t very wise compared to those I look up to. I struggle with loving other people because of my innate ability to be selfish. Oh, and I sin – a lot. Maybe I’m less than average.

I didn’t always see myself like this. I used to think I was everything to everyone. I was God’s gift to the world, but then I grew up and the voices around me began to make headway into my own thoughts. I began to see myself in light of the achievements of others and the opinions of others. That’s when I began to have a real view of myself.

The real view of me isn’t pretty. It’s nothing to brag about.

In this view of me, however, I also see that I AM God’s gift to the world.

As long as I am relying on my strength and knowledge and prowess I become puffed up and useless for God. How can He use me if I’m not willing to be used? But I have nothing to offer to Him. I’m just a messed up heap of brokenness.

Paul, the guy that wrote most of the New Testament, thought about himself in similar ways. He had a lot to brag about but he considered all those things as garbage. He had some kind of ailment or personal torment that he prayed for God to remove, but He didn’t. He struggled with the battle between what he wants to do and what he actually does – just like me.

Yet, when it all boiled down he came to one conclusion:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When I realize that I’m just an ordinary person with nothing special to give then I can also realize that Jesus wants to work through me. If I was full of myself there would be no room for Jesus. When, in my weakness, I allow Him to work amazing things then I get to see the glory of God working through me.

As far as pottery is concerned I’m just a cracked pot, but Jesus sees me as priceless and has chosen to work through me to change the world. He’s chosen you too. Are you willing to be empty of yourself so that He can move in and be glorified in you?

I can focus on my faults and inadequacies all day long, but it’s much more fun to focus on how Jesus is going to use me today in spite of all those things. Oh, and He does use me daily…it’s all about Him.

May Jesus be glorified in us as He changes the world by using His favorite instruments – us.


Fear is easy; Love is hard

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You may be reading this article before Valentines Day. You may be reading it on or after Valentines Day. In any case, this article is NOT about Valentines Day. But it is about love.

When we talk about what it means to be a Christian, the most basic answer is love. The two laws of Christianity are love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). When mentioning faith, hope, and love, the apostle, Paul, said that the greatest of these three is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The problem with love is that we aren’t very good at it, and therefore we aren’t very good at the one thing that should define us as Christians. Sure, we love people. We have deep feelings for those we love, but love is not actually those feelings. In fact, you can love without any feeling at all. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice.

The reason we aren’t very good at love is that we are raised in a culture that teaches us that the world really should revolve around us. Every thing should cater to our whim, so we invent microwaves and fast food restaurants because we deserve to have what we want when we want it. As children we are given things we want because others love us, but the constant showering of love creates a type of narcissism that places us at the center of our own universe. We aren’t very good at love because we are selfish.

We also aren’t very good at love because we are afraid. There is much hurt and betrayal in our culture, and we don’t want to fall victim to that hurt. Maybe you’ve been hurt in your past so you’ve built up walls of protection out of fear of being hurt again. Jason Gray sings a song with the lyrics “Fear is easy. Love is hard.” I tend to agree.

So, we are supposed to love, but we find that love is difficult. How can we overcome that? It begins with an understanding of what love is and isn’t. Love is a choice. It is not an emotion. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, doesn’t boast, not rude, not hot tempered, doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t gloat, looks for truth, is long suffering, is trusting, finds hope in all circumstances, and is not fleeting or fickle.

Oh, and I forgot one. Love isn’t selfish.

I’m selfish, and so until I die to the idea that my desires come first I cannot love anyone – not even my wife. When we are afraid it is because of our self focus. That is what causes us to retaliate and feel the need for anger and frustration. Love is none of those things because love has no needs for itself. Love is selfless.

Look at Jesus. He is the perfect example of love. What did he ever do that was self-seeking? Nothing. He took the role of a servant though he was ruler and creator of all. He died for you although you had done nothing for him. He offers you sinless perfection while all you can offer in return is broken sinfulness. His love for you is not dependent on you. His love for you comes from a choice, as your creator, to love you selflessly despite all you have done to reject him.

If we love like that we will be hurt. We will be cheated. We will be taken advantage of. But if we love like that non of it will matter because we will have died to self, so there’s nothing left for them to kill.

Fear is easy. Love is hard. But it is totally worth it. Love is how we will change the world. Love is how God intends to bring us peace and joy and hope and forgiveness and all the things we truly long for in ourselves.

Choose love.


Parents: Please Read This

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I just spent four days with 13 students fourth through tenth grades. The majority of these students were junior high. We camped in tents and hiked around Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park. We also did some rappelling down the backside of Enchanted Rock.

After spending this time with these teens and preteens I have some observations about us as parents. As you reed this I want you to know that I am with you in this. My oldest is 13.

There was an era in our nation’s history, in fact probably several eras, where the children were raised with certain responsibilities. They grew up respecting the adults they came in contact with, and the adults respected them in turn. The fathers worked to provide for their families, but they didn’t work so far away that they couldn’t teach their sons how to become men. The mothers worked in the home, and they trained their daughters how to be women. Society was much healthier then.

Nowadays we have a grand upheaval of the ideal way of life. Parents are now slaves to their jobs, and they are so physically exhausted and mentally drained that they give their parenting rights over to a black box with moving pictures on it and often wires coming out the front that their children are attached to.

Gone are the days where the fathers teach their sons to become men. Gone are the days where the mothers teach their daughters to become women. Gone are the days where the children show respect to anyone…even themselves.

I say these days are gone because the vast majority of students today do not have this way of rearing as they grow. Sure, there are pockets of this, but the majority of kids I see today come from families where their mom and dad aren’t married to each other – maybe they never were. Now they are growing up with step parents or often single parents. Many of these single parents are living with their “partner” who is not their spouse. The more I visit with teens, the more I see this, and the trend doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.

This weekend I saw preteens deliberately disobey their parent, and the parent did nothing to discipline them. I saw parents who did discipline their children, but they did so out of control, and their anger got the best of them. I heard from several parents, just in the last few days, that were asking what to do about how to raise their son or daughter.

Let me tell you what else I saw from the kids. I heard teens tell me that they were afraid. I heard teens tell me they were angry. This wasn’t just one or two teens, this was the majority. I heard them say they didn’t want to be angry or afraid, and they weren’t really sure why they were either. I saw kids disrespect each other then get upset when someone disrespected them. They didn’t even understand the concept of respect.

I was not on a trip with a bunch of kids from some detention center or other ostracizing facility. I was on a trip with normal kids. But the norm these days isn’t pretty.

I am used to seeing fear, and I see anger a lot. What struck me the most this weekend happened on the way back. Our group was mostly boys, so I had a great selection of boy-type movies for us to watch on the bus. I gave three options for the teens to watch: “Mission: Impossible”, “The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole”, and one of my teens brought a movie so I just threw it out there expecting no other hits – “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

I had seen the last movie when I was a boy, and it was old then. I think it came out when my parents were kids. Yet, when I asked for a vote on which movie they all wanted to watch, the “Red Fern” won decisively.

For two hours I watched my teens get engrossed in a wholesome movie where the main characters were above reproach. The father led his son into rites of passage. The boy was hard working and kept his integrity and his word. There wasn’t a foul word in the entire movie. Even the antagonists were clean-mouthed. The teens ate it up! When the movie was over there was this short silence as if to soak in what they had just seen.

This is what they desire. They are looking for men and women to show them how to be men and women. They aren’t looking for gangsta guys and bi-polar gals to show them how to be dysfunctional. They already have that. They deeply want to be taught respect. They want to be taught to be valuable members of the world around them. It’s such a strange concept to the world they live in, however, they can’t put that desire into words.

Dear parents, if your family is dysfunctional – you know deep down if it is or not – it’s time to bring some healing for your children’s sake. These kids are looking for and needing men and women who will take them in and show them by example how to be healthy adults. If you have friends who have healthy families, then draw close to them so that your children can be influenced by their presence. If you don’t, then get involved with a church where families are investing into the lives if children.

One of the greatest things I do as a youth minister is bring my children (3, and 5) along on trips like the one we went on last weekend. The teens get to see how I interact with my kids. They see when my five-year old is acting more mature or behaving better than they are. I don’t have to say it; they see it.

If you’ve read this, and your children are grown, then please get involved in helping the future generations of our society. If you are a parent whose kids are much like the ones I’ve described above, or your family is like the norm these days, then please get involved with others who can help you mentor your children into becoming mature, healthy adults. The biggest deficit in society today is dads who father their children. Get involved in a place where men are investing. Moms, you work hard and do the best you can. I thank God for you. It’s time you got some much deserved help.

If there’s anything I can do to help you get connected with others who would be willing to help, then please contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. The Nichols St. church of Christ is dedicated to helping kids grow in all areas of life, and I am proud to be blessed to work there with the teens in our area. Let’s work together to help the future generations grow healthy and stop the decay of the family and society. God bless you all, and I am praying deeply for you.


What Are You Afraid Of?

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What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of snakes or bugs or creepy crawlies? Are you afraid of the dark?

I know people who say they are afraid of heights, but that is merely an easy way to explain that they have a fear of falling from high places.

Some people are afraid of wicker furniture or clowns or the number 13. Some people even have pantophobia – fear of everything!

I have agliophobia. It’s a fear of pain. Apparently it’s not a very strong fear because I was able to do the Tough Mudder with all the shocking and bleeding involved. However, it is something I had to really psych myself into accomplishing.

I’m writing this article on Valentine’s Day. Why would I be writing about fears on Valentine’s Day? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18.

We all have things of which we are afraid. Certain things, when we even think about them, cripple us and freeze us in our tracks. I remember growing up with Mom being afraid of snakes. She couldn’t even see pictures of them in magazines. Movies that had snakes in them were out. Those scenes in Indiana Jones where he is in the pit with all the snakes made her leave the room. If I left my bullwhip (a boy’s gift from a loving grandmother) on the floor overnight, then I would get in trouble because it would freeze her in her tracks. She would automatically see that bullwhip coiled up and think “snake”.

When you think of fears, however, what is the root source of that fear? Are you afraid because of the actual object or event? More often than not we are afraid because during that moment all we can think of is ourselves. When I am paralyzed in fear my thoughts are consumed with myself and what might happen to me and how it might hurt me…me, me, me.

When we love we aren’t concerned with “me”. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that “Love is not self-seeking.” If we are concerned about ourselves then we are not loving someone else. 1 John 4:18 sets fear and love as opposites. They are mutually exclusive of one another. It says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love.”.

This has many implications on our loves. It’s Valentine’s week. Have you shrunk back in your desire to show love to someone for fear of how they’ll treat you in return? In that case you aren’t truly thinking about them but yourself. Have you distanced yourself from someone because you just weren’t sure the outcome of your interaction? That’s fear, and that fear is all about you.

God’s promise to us is that He “did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That fear that you feel did not come from God. What comes from God is a powerful ability to love others even against out knee-jerk reactions to shrink back. That’s love done out of self control in a powerful way.

When we get this idea deep into our psyche, then we will have much less difficulty telling others about the love of Jesus. Think about it. We have the greatest message in the world about the greatest event in the world offering the greatest gift to their the world, yet we don’t bother to tell even the people we claim to love about this. Is that love? Love would want them to have what we have. Yet we are paralyzed in our fears and don’t speak.

May you make a resolution today to live according to the Spirit of God. May the Spirit fill you with that power, love, and self discipline. And may the world be changed starting with the relationships we have at home because we are no longer afraid to love others. I know that’s my prayer for me; it’s my prayer for you too.

Thanks for reading this each week! Have a blessed day, and if you’d like to talk more about anything you read here or would like me to pray for you please let me know at jddobbs@verizon.net. Remember: power, love, and self discipline – they are yours in Christ!!


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