Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear?

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

I recently read a story on Alpha Omega Publications "Daily Focus" which fit so well with what is happening in our household. Not this set of circumstances but the dealing with our fears part. The story goes like this:

"An emergency in my brother's family required me to give up our normal homeschooling day to watch his children. Looking out the window, I observed his children and mine playing together in the big tractor tire sand box. Considering that seven children were crowded into one small area, they were getting along quite well. Then, the inevitable happened. One of my brother's sons got upset because his space was violated, and he pushed my oldest daughter out of the sand box. Amazingly, my four-year-old son stepped up to defend his big sister. Raising himself to full height, he said, "You can't treat my sister like that!" My son never even considered the consequences of defiantly challenging his older cousin. The love for his sister filled him with a righteous courage that was ready to take on someone twice his size!"

There are a couple of things in this story that impacted me. The verse from Psalm 27:1 also impacted me in light of impending threats of weather. Tornadoes and thunderstorms loom on the horizon as they push their way towards us during this time of year. Fear seems to be on the edge of all our thoughts, everyday.

Fact # One:
Fear can be a product of Satan as unbelief and unreality. Yes, there are times when a sense of fear is good for us to heed, especially when there is a tornado narrowing it's path towards you, or an unattended child is about to fall over a railing guarding the edge of a long fall into harm. But there are times when we are afraid because of something we cannot wrap our brains around and see God in the midst of it. Fear of talking to people, fear of the reactions of others we need to have a hard conversation with, or other such circumstances where we don't want to look foolish or be thought poorly of. Sometime it is just plain unreality in thoughts we entertain.

"If God be for us, who can be against us?"

The Bible gives us many examples of men in the church, standing against all odds, to share the Gospel of Christ. (see shamah's website) These are great stories of faith and endurance we should remember. But there is another thing we need to remember.

Fact # Two:
We are here on this earth to have relationships with God and with people. Those relationships, in the body of Christ, are called love. "Love one another." That means we have to get involved in each others lives. Sometimes that looks pretty messy. Even though it may look difficult, it is what we are to be about doing. It's not always going to feel safe and secure, confronting someone about their behavior, their lack of  a relationship with you or just finding a way to communicate with them. It's gonna feel scary and uncomfortable for a while. That's OK. Jesus had to do that, too. He had to speak the truth in love and press forward in the knowledge that He was building relationships between people and God. Men tried to kill Him and they threatened him, spoke evil of Him. The same happened with the apostles Peter, James, John and Paul. You're in good company! Rejoice 

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."

Fact # Three:
Our relationship with God is the first and most important relationship we must pursue. If our lives are all about ourselves, our preferences, the saving of our lives and ways, then we will lose our lives. Our lives must be put down, put to death, in order to take up a different life which is the reality and life of Christ. 

You cannot serve two masters. You will either serve YOU or you will serve God. You cannot serve both. If you are living the life of Christ then you will be walking into situations every day that challenge the very strongest of relationships with God. But you will stand up to the challenge without fear because your spiritual reaction will be to love and not fight. "Perfect love casts out fear." and "God is Love."

Our natural reaction to facing fear is to hide or run away. Adam and Eve did just that. They hid themselves. We must ask ourselves, Am I hiding? 

Maybe it's hiding behind a bedroom door so you can spend your time on yourself instead of others, or putting on a smile or a frown to hide the real way we feel. Maybe its acting shy and withdrawn or acting hard and critical to avoid facing interaction with people for fear of being found out for what you are doing or have done. Maybe it's joking and making fun of all sorts of things so you don't have to be serious and accountable for your actions. Maybe it's being unavailable to talk or participate in something social so you are not having to give up your life for other people.

What ever the reason might be, that fact remains that we can hide from people and even try to hide from God. It's a way of escaping the reality of life and facing our fears. It's a lie because it is not the real you in Christ coming out. It's that fleshly, dead things that is leaking out all over the place. It stinks and everyone can smell it except for you.

Stop consuming your time and energy on being afraid to give up your life and die to yourself. Death is not the end of anything you need to hold on to. It is a transformation into a much better life and way of thinking. It is the freedom you need to experience the real life of Christ. Not a fake religious behavior that tries to imitate real worship and love for God and others.

Our lives are to be given up for something much more than our own satisfactions, our own preferences and our own comforts. Jump out in front of the bullet. Take hold of sacrificial love for the King and His Kingdom. Enter into His sufferings and participate in real Life! Be a disciple of Jesus Christ our Lord.  I dare you.

If you want to fear something, fear God who can destroy both your body and your soul. That's a worthy cause for fear. Stop messing around with unworthy things and embrace sacrificial love. You will never regret it. And you will not be afraid of anything ever again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Am The Lighthouse

There is a story I heard a long time ago about a captain of a navy vessel coming in contact with another vessel and arguing over who was going to go which way around each other when they met. The story goes like this:

In the midst of World War II with tensions running high...
Off the eastern seaboard, one dark and foggy night...
The captain sighted out ahead, just off the starboard side,
the beacon of another ship.... The two would soon collide.

"Adjust your course ten degrees to the north," he radioed ahead.
Much to his amazement, the 'ship' replied instead...
"Adjust your course ten degrees to the south."
The captain felt a chill.
His eyes grew cold and narrowed, and the two drew closer still.
"I'm the captain of this vessel, and this is a command.
Adjust your course ten degrees to the north, or receive a reprimand."
Again, the voice replied, as calm and smooth as glass...

"Adjust your course ten degrees to the south. I'm a seaman, second class."
I'm a U. S. Naval Destroyer," snapped the captain with a shout,
"Now adjust your course, ten degrees, no discussion. Over and out."
They drew unnervingly closer; his eyes fixed on the light.
This time the voice ripped through the air like lightning tears the night.
"I am the lighthouse.

This story was told in song by the Gaither's several years ago and it had a great impact on me then. I remember thinking that the captain was like me. He wanted his own way and be in charge of his ship or life in my case. I wanted God but I wanted him my way. I wanted him to help me the way I thought I needed help and when I wanted help.

But God is an immovable force to be recconed with. He is there and we must adjust our thoughts to his thoughts, our ways to his ways. If not we will be dashed upon the rocks and crushed into pieces. That's what happened to me.

What I saw more plainly was the story of the seaman second class. He has a confidence and assurance that was derived from the source of the lighthouse. He lives "in" the lighthouse. Christ is the lighthouse. When we are in Christ we have the confidence of knowing the source of his presence. He is the immovable rock of salvation we will be eithe dashed upon and fought to the end of ourselves or will will navigate around and avoid.

There is such a depth and strength of the lighthouse that is built upon a mighty fortress of God almighty. The lighthouse reveales the true nature of the foundation and warns us of the destruction to come. That foundation is also the strength we live in and upon when we enter into Christ.

I looked up every verse in the New Testament on "in Christ" the following list is the result of that search. What it says is that we have a rich and full life "inside" of Christ. The multitudes of blessings are our, when we are "in Christ". Star your new year off by confirming your position in Christ. Reconcile the course you are an on and decide if you are going to steer around God or enter into the lighthouse. Let your life be dashed and destroyed upon the rock. Be shipwrecked and saved. Then enter into fellowship with the source of life.

Act_24:24 faith in Christ.
Rom_3:24 justified – redemption in Christ Jesus;
Rom_8:1 no condemnation in Christ
Rom_8:2 of life in Christ
Rom_8:39 no separation in Christ.
Rom_9:1 truth in Christ
Rom_12:5 one body in Chris.
Rom_15:17 boasting in Christ
Rom_16:3 helpers in Christ Jesus,
Rom_16:7 kinsmen and fellow prisoners in Christ
Rom_16:9 helper in Chris.
Rom_16:10 approved in Christ.
1Co_1:2 sanctified in Christ
1Co_1:30 wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; in Christ Jesus
1Co_4:10 wise in Christ strong honorable
1Co_15:19 we have hope in Christ
1Co_15:22 alive in Christ
1Co_15:31 rejoicing in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1Co_16:24 love in Christ
2Co_1:21 confirming and anointing us with you in Christ
2Co_2:14 triumph in Christ
2Co_2:17 sincerity in Christ
2Co_3:14 Unveiled vision in Christ.
2Co_5:17 new creature in Christ,
2Co_5:19 reconciliation in Christ.
Gal_2:4 liberty in Christ
Gal_2:16 justified in Christ
Gal_3:17 ratified by God in Christ
Gal_3:26 sons of God in Christ
Gal_3:28 all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal_6:15 a new Christ
Eph_1:1 faithful in Christ Jesus.
Eph_1:3 Blessed in Christ;
Eph_2:6 raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,
Eph_2:10 God’s workmanship, created in Christ
Eph_2:13 made near in Christ.
Eph_3:6 partaker of His promise in Christ
Eph_3:11 eternal purpose in Christ
Php_1:1 saints in Christ
Php_1:13 bound in Christ
Php_2:1 encouragement comfort of love tendernesses and mercies in Christ,
Php_2:5 mind of in Christ
Php_3:3 confidence in Christ
Php_3:14 a high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Col_1:4 faith in Christ
Col_1:28 perfect in Christ.
Col_2:5 order and steadfastness in Christ.
1Th_4:16 risen first in Christ
1Th_5:18 thankful in Christ
1Ti_1:14 faith and love in Christ Jesus.
1Ti_2:7 speaking the truth in Christ
1Ti_3:13 boldness in Christ Jesus.
2Ti_1:1 the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
2Ti_1:9 saved and called in Christ Jesus before the eternal times.
2Ti_1:13 sound words in Christ Jesus.
2Ti_2:1 strong in the grace in Christ Jesus.
2Ti_2:10 salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2Ti_3:12 live godly in Christ
2Ti_3:15 wisdom in Christ Jesus.
Phm_1:6 every good thing in Christ Jesus.
Phm_1:8 boldness in Christ
1Pe_3:16 good behavior in Christ.
1Pe_5:14 Peace in Christ