fear, doubt, and anxiety

Sunlight Shining Through Forest

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it!’ (Numbers 13:30).

I love the story of Joshua and Caleb scoping out the Promised Land.  I think most of us do.  They covertly travel the landscape with ten other “spies.”  They return and confirm that the land God had promised to them was more than they could have ever thought possible.  Caleb declares before the entire Israelite community, “What are we waiting for?!” (It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul will write in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”)  But what do the other ten spies who went with Joshua and Caleb come back and say?  “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33).

Twelve men, two perspectives.  It is a story of fear versus faith in God.  Doubt versus trust in God.  Anxiety versus confidence in God.

A few weeks ago we held a premiere of the movie “Home Run” in the FLC.  We had 250+ in attendance, many of whom were invited by friends, all of whom benefited greatly from the evening together.  The movie centered upon struggling with addiction and struggling in relationships.  Ultimately, the movie centered upon trusting God.  One of the best lines in the movie was, “Nothing great happens when you hold back.”

Fear, doubt, and anxiety hold us back.  As a people.  As a church.  We fear failure.  We doubt God.  When we do, anxiety reigns, the Kingdom is crippled, and the enemy is pleased.

When will we understand, “Nothing great happens when you hold back.”

And so I ask you these questions:

  • What do you need to let go of?
  • Is your faith as strong as it ought to be?
  • In what way are you not trusting wholly in our Father?
  • What creates anxiety within you?
  • What do you need to give to God?

Caleb asks the people of God, “What are we waiting for?!”

Today, I ask the same.

Glory to God!

Jason

those who mourn

blessed“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

God’s divine favor and comfort, amidst tragedy, grief, and mourning.

Please be in prayer for those impacted by the terror at the Boston Marathon.

And for all of those in West, Texas.

We are a people created for a Kingdom not of this world.

Our King is the Great Healer.

Glory to God!

Jason

Christ-defined or situation-defined?

Those of you who have raised children know very well the up and down emotions of a child.  They can be crying one moment and laughing the next.  Hungry and dissatisfied and throwing a “wall-eyed fit,” and then minutes later content and satisfied and happy as they could possibly be (I don’t know exactly what “wall-eyed fit” means but I’ve come to understand – it’s not good!).  The emotions of a child run the gauntlet readily.

But aren’t we sometimes equally as susceptible to running the gauntlet?  Don’t we often allow the situations we find ourselves in at times to take control of our emotions?  Don’t we at times allow external situations to overwhelm how we feel about everything else?

Sometimes what upsets us is a very real and present stress.  The loss of a job.  The loss of a loved one.  An uncontrollable plummet of emotions.  But at other times (and more often than not) it’s something minor that sends us into orbit.  Traffic lights when were running behind.  Formatting a Word document on a computer different than you’re accustomed to.  Trying to navigate through traffic when the GPS is telling you to go down a road that is blocked off due to construction.  (I just thought I’d throw three recent personal examples out there…).  🙂

Our current situations will continue to define our happiness until we are Christ-defined rather than situation-defined.

Haven’t you seen Christians who right in the very middle of the crisis of a lifetime reveal such a trusting faith in Jesus?  Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself.  The peace that transcends all understanding as the Father brings comfort amidst turmoil.  Tranquility in the middle of anxiety.

However beyond the tragic is the everyday.  And I believe that one of the many things we struggle with as a people is the ability to calmly, rationally, objectively engage life.  And as believers we ought to do better at this.

Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, ‘Rejoice.’”   Where is the Apostle when he writes the letter to the Philippians?  Prison!  Rejoice?  Have joy?  You better believe it!  But only, in Christ.  And only when Christ-defined rather than situation-defined.

Glory to God!

Jason

tenacious serenity

The next aspect pursued in Dissident Discipleship is what Augsburger calls Tenacious Serenity.

He describes Tenacious Serenity as “willing obedience.”

It is “the quality of yielded fortitude, of surrendered steadfastness that stays the course, commits the soul, and relinquishes the self to what is truly good, what is ultimately prized, what is the will of God” (p85).  Read that again….

Tenacious Serenity is a two-sided coin.  As we encounter Christ and as we engage in authentic discipleship, we are called to be active in living out our lives of faith.  Life is only truly lived when it is lived in such a way as to honor Christ as Lord.  Intentionality is so very crucial.  And only when we surrender ourselves completely to the sovereign will of God, will calm and peace truly be experienced.  Perhaps the peace that passes/transcends all understanding that the Apostle Paul shared with us in Philippians 4 is critically connected to the idea of Tenacious Serenity.

Trusting in God demands a willful submission to Him.  As well as an unyielding response to the Gospel of Christ.

When we are and when we do, our daily walk reveals a God-filled, God-designed, God-given, God-ordained serenity of life that is unequaled, unrivaled, and impossible to attain elsewhere.

Glory to God!

Jason

a rhythm of life

“Busy” describes the lives of most.  “Hectic” or “pressured” probably does a better job of describing the lives of many.  We over-commit, over-book, and over-obligate.  We put demands on ourselves and demands on our children that very often do more harm than good.  I say “we” because I have been just as guilty, if not more, than you.  I look to my peer group, to those who have children at home, and I see us overextending ourselves in too many areas of life.  Spending exorbitant amounts of time and energy in arenas that grant us little in return.  Placing emphasis in areas of life that in the grand scheme of things possess little significance.  Running full speed in a rapidly spinning hamster wheel and getting absolutely nowhere.

What is needed is a reprioritization of what’s important.  To sift through the things that comprise our lives and determine what’s important and what’s not.  To determine what we’re investing our lives into that’s really worthwhile and what it is that needs to be scaled back.  Or completely cut out.

We spend so much effort seeking to provide for a lifestyle that we’ve created, so much so that we spend little time investing in the family we’ve created the lifestyle for.  How does that make sense?

I have to believe that Jesus’ life was one of complexity and simplicity.  It was balanced.  In every way it was balanced.  Does “balanced” describe your life too?  If not, perhaps some reprioritization is in order.

Jesus spent intentional time with God.  He set aside God designated time.  Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”  When is the last time that you did that?  Is it a part of your normal rhythm of life?  When is the last time you removed yourself from the static of the world and just spent some time in communion with God?  Seeking counsel from God.  Refocusing upon those things in life which truly matter.

Spending time in prayer and in communion and in silence before God, and committing ourselves to a rhythm of life that intentionally facilitates balance and simplicity in a life filled with complexity, is such a Christ-like way to live.

Glory to God!

Jason

peace like a river

Horatio Spafford and his wife Anna had moved from England to the United States to build a life together.  They had 5 children: four daughters and a son.  The family settled in Chicago where Spafford began a successful law practice.

Within a matter of a few years the couple’s life began to fall apart.  Their infant son passed away without warning in 1871.  Later that same year Spafford’s law office burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire, ruining him financially.  Two years later, 1873, as they were seeking to rebuild, Anna and the girls set sail to visit family in England.  Horatio, delayed by business, made plans to follow in the coming weeks.

On its way to England, the SS Ville De Havre, the ship Anna and the girls were aboard, collided with another ship and sank.  As Anna reached the shores of Europe she telegraphed her husband two crippling words, “Saved alone.”  All four of their daughters had drowned.  Only she had survived.

While trying to make sense of all of the tragedy that had occurred and was occurring in his life, as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Horatio Spafford penned these words on a borrowed piece of hotel stationary….

When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

When peace like a river attendeth my way….  What I hear Spafford describing is a beautiful portrait of a gentle river that runs along side the pathway he is travelling.  It is a river that accompanies him on his journey.  And it is a river of peace.

The Apostle Paul writes of a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  A peace that transcends reason.  A peace that even in the midst of tragedy accompanies us on our journey.  A peace that is found in Christ.

I wonder if we truly know that sort of peace?  I wonder if we experience it often?  A peace that stills anxiety.  A peace that quiets stress.  A peace that heals tragedy.  Does that sort of peace accompany you every step of the way in your journey of life?

True peace is found only in Christ.  Only in closeness with Him.  So often we find ourselves searching for calm.  Searching for serenity.  Searching for inner stillness.  What we are seeking is a peace that is only found in Jesus.  Wonderful, soothing, healing peace.

And when peace begins to overwhelm and characterize our lives – especially in those moments when we cannot explain how – we can indeed explain why.

Glory to God!

Jason