Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

What does Jackson like to do on Saturdays? Tell me about his strengths and weaknesses. Who is his favorite author? What ticks him off? Would you be able to answer any of these questions?

Hosea 6:6 in The Message puts it in part like this: “…I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” Is your relationship with God personal enough that you could describe Him to someone who only hears about God from a fan, after a referee’s poor call at an athletic event?

In a movie I watched recently, the words Jesus and Christ were used in two sentences as adjectives to describe a person’s irritation with something. Really?

In connecting with another, there are significant issues we must deal with. Will we be truthful or hide? Will we let fear of being known limit what we share about ourselves?

WHAT THIS MEANS: Are you willing to get real with God and deal with the cost involved to really know Him? Or are you ready to talk about your weaknesses and faults with  another? Can they ask you any question? Are you willing to honestly answer it?

It is certainly important to have all of the doctrinal ducks all lined up and think we’ve got it all figured out. There is a subtle pride however in stopping there. Sometimes I really believe we are afraid to listen to how another person concludes something different from our conclusions. There are never two or three truths but as we continue searching, God pulls back the veil a little more and we see something we never saw before.

I meet with a group of men for prayer every Tuesday morning. I have always known about faith and that God can do anything. These men really expect God to act. I examined that truth and really asked some hard questions and kept going deeper into it. I knew some of my friends might think I was going beyond the truth but I knew God would show me where that line was.

It reminds me of Hebrews 5:11-14 and how easy it is to settle for less than what God wants us to learn and experience. God is not afraid of our questions. Why are we satisfied with 1+1=2 when there algorithms? If we stop with addition, we might miss some confusion, but also a reality that could free us to do unimaginable things.

Think about making disciples. We talk about it, do Bible studies about it and even memorize verses related to it but it is not until we begin to disciple another that we really learn what it means to trust God to do what only he can through us.

Are you afraid to venture into the mysteries that God knows? Are you willing to let God pull back the veil a little more and show you something that will cause you to change something in your life?

Don’t be afraid of the light! Psalm 119:105 reminds us that the Word is a light and lamp for our search.

It’s true in relationships with people and with God, but every time we consider asking a question other than the “hows it going?” or “why did this happen?” questions, we stay firmly in the same place and don’t change the relationship or grow in any significant way. Why are we reluctant to ask people or God the real questions we have? Fear is one of the dominant reasons. The relationship might end or God might remain silent or not come through-then what?

This never seemed to be a problem with the prophets. Take Habakkuk 1:2-4 for example. These were no first grade questions or accusations and Habakkuk had no hesitation expressing his questions with emotion. He wanted answers now! God comes back with a jolting answer in verses 5 & 6. “You’ll be blown away by the incredible plot line I’m working on.” Word on the Street Habakkuk dares to ask another question.

People want to know we are real, authentic, and understand their issues and questions. God wants us to know we are seriously interested in him more than an answer to our questions.He will give us an answer when he knows we can handle it or that it will drive us deeper in our relationship with him.

What are your questions about not hearing God answer your prayers, why your kid won’t see that you really do care about them, why evil seems to win more than good, why people have to experience such injustices personally, why Christians let the culture control them, why a bad habit in our life never goes away, why we can’t seem to get back to doing church as it seems to have been practiced in the early days of Christianity, why we want to always avoid a disagreeable person…?

Don’;t be afraid of asking God your questions. He wants us to know, love, trust and obey him and he will teach us through our challenging questions. Don’t be afraid of asking another person a challenging question, but make sure your motivation is right.

I remember my freshman year at Texas A&M. At that time it was an all-male military university. One day the commanding officer of our company lined all of the freshman up in the hall and had every 5th man stand. There were about 30 of us so 6 men stood. Then he said the most startling thing “this is how many of you will be here when you are seniors!”

Alone

Alone (Photo credit: JB London)

I graduated from college but from another university but I went back to visit when I was a senior. I believe there were 5 or 6 still in my company as seniors.

Why did most of us leave? I am sure there were many reasons but we left non the less. Throughout Jesus’ life he increasingly defined what it meant to follow him. More and more left and only a handful remained. And, as you and I travel this road, we begin to look around and many of our friends and others we know are nowhere in sight. Some refuse to let go of a habit or the many varieties of sin. Like Jeremiah says in Jer. 8:6 “…no one repents of his wickedness…each pursues their own course.” Most people look out for themselves with little concern for the stuff Jesus said. Check Philippians 2:21. Then in 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul mentions Demas who chased whatever was being advertised as “this will get you noticed.”

Whatever it is that began to cause some to follow Jesus are the same things that cause them to stop. It looked like a great adventure in the beginning but when Jesus said we had to go through that place where it was dangerous, some said “no way Jose.” The way Jesus responded to the opposition of his day challenged us but later as we faced opposition it scared us off of the road. The road Jesus expects us to travel is littered with exits everywhere and it is too easy to take them.

We must not get discouraged if we continue down that track and our buddies have bailed. Jesus is still on that road and says to us “you won’t believe what is just  over the next hill but you are going to love it.” Keep walking.

No Fear

No Fear (Photo credit: Cosmopolita.)

A couple of overseas trips stand out for me that were exhilarating but nearly scared the spank out of me. One was in the Czech Republic where I was alone and nearly robbed by two men and who knows what else could have happened. But the city…beautiful. The other in Croatia where I was walking with another man down a road while the war in the Balkans was underway. Two Croatian soldiers jumped out with guns and shouted “stop and turn around, there are snipers ahead.” What a great trip it was to Croatia as we helped a family rebuild a home destroyed in the war.

God intended our team to be in these places but it was not without risk. You do not have to leave your city or country however for God to invite you to join him in some unsafe places. You could be involved with the homeless, or recently released people from jail or with a former child molester. Even more frightening might be if God began to pull back the veil from how you view something in the Christian life and show you that there is a different and maybe more effective way to accomplish his purposes.

Jesus was completely in the Father’s will as he agonized in prayer in a garden outside of Jerusalem. I mean he knew he had agreed with the Father and Holy Spirit about this but really, this was tough. He also knew there was no other way to accomplish what they had agreed on. Check Matthew 26:36-39.

Where have you said “no way” when you sensed God saying something challenging to you? Why wouldn’t you do whatever God spoke to you about? Remember, He has already said “don’t be afraid.” Isaiah 41:10. He’s with you in the boat, in the alley, wherever. Venture out of the paralyzing comfort and learn who Jesus really is.

Why do we avoid everything that makes us uncomfortable, forces us to look at life from a much different perspective than we have always had, drives us deep into our soul and is painful to consider differences? It is only when we are seriously challenged like this that we learn the heart of God, have the veil pulled back a little more and understand the depths to which God loves us and others.

On every overseas trip my wife and I have had we have been forced to look at how to do life with God in different ways. We h

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. S...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

ave been stretched to see how God speaks to people in different cultures often in different ways. It has made us think and has greatly enlarged our understanding of the essentials of the Christian life.

In order to do church and experience the life God wants us to have we must embrace the tough things that force us to not look at life like a straight line but as a line with many dashes in it that often curves and in some cases looks blank. God knows exactly what it takes for each of us to experience and enjoy his life, so let’s get out of the leather boy chair Christian lifestyle and experience God in ways we could never imagine. He’s really for us.

A further look: Jeremiah 33:3; Acts 8:1-8; and 1 Corinthians 13:12

“Tomorrow” is a word not only in everyone’s dictionary but combined with “think of” or “plan for” not only represents the mantra of our culture but also the passionate obsession of our insistence to control life. So we save, purchase more than we need at the grocery, store away enough to last for weeks or longer just in case… For everything, we are told we can never have too much.

But what if there was an insurance plan that would provide only for today, every day? Would you buy into that plan? God offered that to people a few thousand years ago. But that was then, and this is today and if you live in the Western world you have to think of the catastrophe if you did what they did. Exodus 16 is one of those chapters that you hope is on U Tube but it can’t possibly have meaning for today, right? Just think of what they would have missed or you and I, if we did not trust God to provide every day for our needs-“you’ll realize that I am God, your God.” For most of us, our relationship with God never gets this far.

But of course this is not possible today so we remain in bondage to lifestyles of busyness, striving, gathering for that medical expense, car wreck, or dropped I Pad that is just around the corner. God may not ha

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ve changed but our life in these days makes believing God like this not only outrageous but qualifies us for the asylum.

Each of us must determine whether God is being straight with us today and if so, how we are to apply it, but we must not automatically assume these words are irrelevant today. Consider Proverbs 30:8 & 9 along with Philippians 4:12 & 19 and don’t forget that prayer-…give us this day…”

Some of us want a clear understanding of what we should do before we jump. The only explanation of what lies ahead for us is the guarantee that Jesus will be there every step of the way. Jesus is not obligated to explain anything to us unless we need to know. Check John 1:35-39.

Thousands show up at a popular concert because the only things required to attend are minimal. And really when you think about it, after the concert you just leave. The real Jesus concert is radically different. You don’t show up and then leave feeling tingly because as he walks away he says to you “lets go.” And you are thinking “my ticket price didn’t include anything but listening to the music and some rhetoric that is easily forgotten.”

So, my wife and I are moving from Northern Colorado to Boise, Idaho in 2 months. We know a few people there and know a little about a few ministries, but we are going with a blank sheet of paper. Only God knows what will be written on it and that is the most exciting part of the whole deal. It’s considered wise in America to really think through your future and make plans that will help you accomplish your goals. It’s sort of like mapping out your trip: Interstate 25 to Interstate 80 to Interstate 84 and you are in Boise (pronounced without a Z). But what if God has something up his sleeve near mile marker 247 on Interstate 80 that means you are going to have to take a different route? Personally, I believe this is where it gets exciting.

What’s keeping you from experiencing the unbelievable joy of allowing Jesus to call the shots? Proverbs 19:21 in the Message says it “We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.” And then there is the always scary James 4:13-16 “…you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow…” You can thrive on uncertainty and certainty at the same time if you are completely following Jesus.

follow me

follow me (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Mardi Gras Exposed

Posted: December 27, 2012 in Authentic, Courage, Fear, Honesty, Real, Superficiial
New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in th...

New Orleans Mardi Gras: Street costumers in the French Quarter, wearing elaborate flower costumes in the traditional local Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in New Orleans-spent 11 years there and in the time I was there went to 11 Mardi gras celebrations, riots or whatever you wanted to call them. One of the interesting aspects of it was how many people dressed either extremely weird or wore a mask of some kind. Either way you really did not know who they were. You could easily bump into a high powered lawyer who had black grease all over his body with moss hanging from his head and was carrying a giant bone of some kind in each hand. Fascinating to look at but he was not interested in sitting down at Starbucks with a coffee and talking about his life with you.

Mardi gras is celebrated in so many small groups-maybe not the wild decorated bodies but definitely with masks that seem to be permanently attached. What I want is to be a part of a band of brothers and sisters who are not going to pretend anything, will tell you what you might not rather hear because they value honesty so much, do not live in superficial hiding places and are so authentic that it makes everyone else remember they had an appointment somewhere else and have to leave now.

Following Jesus always exposes and severely challenges us but the freedom of being real is refreshing and what others long for also. Tim

othy saw Paul’s life up close and chose to be a part of his small group. Take a look at 2 Timothy 3:10 and 11.

Are you willing to let people be real with you? Are you willing to be real with them? Or do you prefer the Mardi gras group?

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost everyone hates delay of any kind. Why do we have to wait for Christmas? Just do it now. “The Interstate is backed up for miles; I’ve been waiting in this line for hours.” These are common words we use to express our disapproval of how our perspective reflects our understanding of how life is supposed to work.

Delay does not remove opportunity but rather teaches us valuable lessons. Think with me about Jesus getting a text from a couple of women about his friend who was really sick. They knew he would respond immediately but instead he turned off his phone…for 2 days! And Laz died while Jesus and the gang of 12 hung out doing whatever. Finally it was time and Jesus said “let’s go see him.”

Jesus had a different perspective, a different time frame and a different objective in waiting two days before going to see his friends. This does not make sense…or does it?

In 7 months my wife and I will move from our apartment. Our lease is up and we are out. Where are we moving to? What exactly are we going to do? We have told God over and over that we are willing to move anywhere so just let us know and we will get after it. Even an apartment on a ski slope in France next to a bakery would work. What if it is June 2013 and we do not have an answer? What are our conclusions? Do we still believe God knows or that he is maybe on a vacation somewhere?

Check out John 11:1-16 and Genesis 22:1-14 before you get frustrated with y

our perspective of “God’s delay.”

Are you willing to learn from “delay?” How can you deepen your trust that God knows exactly what his is doing?