Archives For Fear

Whether we realize it or not, we are all suffering from a shortness of breath. Each inhale leaves us one less before we breathe our last. While this may sound morbid and depressing to some, it should not be the case for followers of Jesus. For me, the thought invokes both excitement and a sense of urgency. I have no greater desire than to be with Jesus.

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I don’t fear death and neither should you if you have placed your faith in, and pledged devotion to, Christ. Paul said to be absent from the body was to be in the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). There is no fear in being surrounded by perfect love (1 John 4:18).

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Everyone wants to make a difference. We all want to live a life of significance, to live a powerful life. Why then do so many lead lives of quiet desperation? Should Christ followers even aspire to any form of greatness or recognition? Nelson Mandela said there is no passion in playing small, in living a life less than you are capable of living.

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I think Jesus would agree. He created you with a unique blend of skills and passions to do the work He designed for you to do. He created you for a reason. If Jesus is your Lord, the very Spirit of God resides within you. How then could you not live a powerful life?

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In his book, “The War of Art”, Steven Pressfield talks about the resistance we face when we endeavor to become the person we were created to be. While Pressfield is most concerned with living out our artistic or entrepreneurial passions, I believe the same principles apply in our quest to utilize the unique combination of skills and passions God has instilled in each of us in order to complete the Kingdom work He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

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Resistance is defined in “The War of Art” as anything keeping us from starting or achieving the work necessary to reach our goals. While Mr. Pressfield refers to “The Resistance” as an unknown, somewhat mystical – yet very real – entity, I propose this “Resistance” is actually Satan.

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Much of our life is ruled (and ruined) by fear. We don’t take a risk for the Kingdom because we are afraid. We cower in fear over a medical diagnosis. We’re afraid to help a stranger because we fear for our own safety. We stay frozen and never move forward because we are afraid of what it might require of us or it might disrupt our comfortable pattern of life. When we strip away the pride and braggadocio, we are a fearful people.

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I have good news! For those who are followers of Jesus, fear is optional. We need not fear anything. God is the embodiment of love, and the Bible tells us perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). In other words, whenever we are fearful, it is because we have chosen to be afraid.
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“Walk by faith, not by sight” is an old saying in church circles. I recently heard Pastor Steven Furtick put an interesting twist on this. He said, “If you walk by faith and not by sight, you’ll always hear something from God before you see any evidence of it.” Most of the time, the things we hear from God seem a little crazy.

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The promptings of the Holy Spirit are often potentially dangerous, defy social norms, or push us way out of our comfort zone. We have to choose to either obey God (walk by faith) or ignore him and go our own way (walk by sight).
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Josh Husmann, pastor at Mercy Road Church in Indianapolis, recently made the point that, “Your faith is most contagious when it is fully alive.” Dormant faith rarely spreads. If we aren’t living in such a way that our faith drives everything we do, we will struggle to be effective witnesses for Jesus.

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When we are fully engaged in our faith, our lives take on an irresistible glow, a fire that is visible to all those with whom we come into contact. We all want a faith that is fully alive, but the struggles of our own doubts and insecurities leave our faith simmering just below the surface. It’s time to let it explode. It’s time we unleashed our faith into the world.
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Recently my pastor said something that I have found to be true. He said, “Passion for Christ will always take you out of your comfort zone.” If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for any amount of time, you probably recognize this and consider it a no-brainer. But recognizing something to be true and accepting it are two very different things.

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Let’s face it: most of us will do about anything to maintain our comfort. In fact we aggressively pursue it through the purchase of entertainment, clothing, food, and other vices. None of these crutches have anything to do with being a follower of Jesus; but we ignore that point so we can get on with our lives.
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Fear categorizes. Perfect love casts out fear. Therefore there is no categorization in love. We categorize people we fear. We categorize them as terrorists, homosexuals, liberals, conservatives, etc. When we categorize them, it means we do not love them. When we don’t love them, we are not living in the way Jesus instructed us.

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In fact we are living in a way that is totally opposed to the way Jesus did. That’s a dangerous place to be.  If we love everyone we will fear no one. Love, as God defines it, is indiscriminate and unconditional. The groups of people we are most likely to categorize are also those whom we have the most difficulty loving.
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What if we stared at God every moment of our day? The Bible tells us we should fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), but how often do we make a conscious effort to do that?  More importantly, what does that look like in real life? I’ve recently been trying to work this out for myself. The key is to first get a proper mental image of God. Check out Revelation 4:8-11, where it describes angels who do nothing but praise God, all day. They are so consumed with His beauty that they can do nothing else. God is the perfection of all that is good. He is perfect and unconditional love, and is constantly in pursuit of you, reaching out to you.  Look at Isaiah 6:3-5, where the prophet feels ruined just from looking at the beauty of God. Keep that picture of God at the forefront of your mind.

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Satan loves to fill our minds with doubts and fears. He reminds us of our perceived shortcomings and failures. If we listen long enough, these thoughts become debilitating and prevent us from carrying out the mission of Christ. Too often we fail to recognize Satan as the source of our destructive thought patterns. If we did, we wouldn’t lend them the credence that we do. The Bible tells us that Satan is “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10). Any time you have thoughts of not being good enough or you doubt your ability to accomplish something, those thoughts are from the devil himself. In the same way, when you are afraid, those feelings too are from Satan. God is one hundred percent love, and there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18).

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