Fear & Faith


When was the FIRST time that you realized that what you were feeling was fear? Strange question?

It struck me this week that I can remember learning to tie my shoe for the first time (an older girl taught me when I about 3 years old).  I can remember the first college basketball game I attended (Memphis State and Keith Lee).  I remember my first concert (I am a little embarrassed to say it was Steven Curtis Chapman… now, my second was RUSH and they opened with Tom Sawyer… Epic.)

There are a lot of FIRSTS that I can remember. BUT I cannot remember the FIRST time I FEARED. 

I definitely remember fearful times in my life.  The first day of Kindergarten was terrifying.  I cried.  Singing a solo at church when I was 8 ended with a disaster.  I forgot the words and went mute while the taped accompany played on. In my adult life, my first panic attack. I thought I was having a stroke.  We were in a new city and so my wife tried to find the hospital.  We couldn’t…  so, the first responders met us in a Kroger parking lot.  They had me breath into a brown bag to get my hyperventilation under control.  Wow.  Yes this happened.  And they said “sir, we believe you are having a panic attack.”

Fear. I remember the events well but the FIRST fear?

Why is the FIRST Fear so hard to remember?  I believe it is because fear is so prevalent and apart of our normal psyche. We live with it daily.  We are either overwhelmed by it. We ignore it.  We stuff it. We might even try to counter it with various forms of entertainment, food, sex, drink.

Why does fear have this effect?  Fear defined is an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  It has been said that 95% of the things that we fear don’t even occur.  We all know FDR’s famous statement “The only thing we have to fear Is fear itself” But we FEAR.

Fascinating.  Fear is caused by the BELIEF of someone or something that is dangerous.  A BELIEF.   It is not something that has actually come true.  It is a BELIEF!  So, where is the relief?  How do we find hope in our fear?

The Scriptures call us to BELIEVE differently.

In Isaiah 57:11 God calls his people to believe differently. Whom did you dread and fear, so that you lied, and did not remember me, did not lay it to heart?  Have I not held my peace, even for a long time, and you do not fear me?”  God was calling Israel away from idolatry and into Himself. Why? Is this a power play?  I would suggest not.  God was simply calling them and us away from reflected glory to the source of glory and grace!  This is a repeated call.  In Isaiah 43 God says “Do not fear… I am the holy one of Israel… your savior.”  The refrain of scripture is to call us away from making the created our savior and seeing God as our hope.

But notice the progression of redemptive history.  In the NT, God does not just call us to Himself but in Jesus, we have God come to us.  He comes to us in the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection.  God invites us to lay hold of Jesus. It is a call to our fearful heart into His love, peace and rest.  1 John states There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear.  

What an invitation to a different kind of belief.  Instead of masking our fears we are invited into the one who faced the fear of the cross for you and me.    Personally, I want to continually grow in this kind of hope and love!

Hymn writer E.E. Hewitt wrote:

My faith has found a resting place
From guilt my soul is free
I trust the Ever-living One
His wounds shall plead for me.

I need no other argument
I need no other plea
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me


Walking with God


I was reading, this morning, the story of Noah and the flood.  In v9 it said “Noah walked with God.” It got me thinking.  What would we be remembered for?  Probably a number of things or maybe a few things.  Possibly our accomplishments, our humor, or our character.

BUT What if we where remembered that we “walked with God?”

What is it to walk with God?

What is it to walk with the immortal, invisible God only wise?  What is it to walk with the God, as the Westminster Catechism defines, “infinite, eternal, unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.”

What is it to walk with God?

I STRUGGLE to walk with GOD. I am a pastor and struggle.  Now, here is what I have found.  This struggle is not isolated to only me but it’s common to all Christians.  It is a challenge to be with our Maker and our King.  We are impatient.  We are always on the go.  It’s hard to carve out a time, place and where to start in God’s word.

This past week, in my staff meeting, one the staff shared about her struggle and said “I struggle to listen to God because I don’t wait long enough to hear from him.”  I appreciated their honesty.

Over the last year, while I struggle, I have found a great deal of joy in what it is to walk with God. It has come as I have considered more deeply the wonders of the cross of Christ.  Knowing his intimacy through the incarnation and living in our broken world, knowing our plight, knowing our impatience, knowing our struggles and going to the cross to bring hope through His life, death and resurrection is amazing grace.  Our walk with God starts with growing in a deeper knowledge of Jesus’ immeasurable goodness to us through his sacrifice.  He lived a perfect life to soften and to bring to life our cold hearts.  Simply, It is God’s goodness that propels our faith and repentance.  It is God’s goodness that empowers our walk.

So, how do we walk with God in His goodness and Grace?  It has to be through the GIFTS of GOD.  1. The Gift of the Gospel. The Scriptures from start to finish is about the pursuing grace of God for sinners.  The Old Testament longed for the Messiah. The New Testament witnessed and shared Christ.   The Gift of the Gospel is God’s word. Lately, my devotional time has been reading single passages for weeks at a time.  It has for me been like looking at a diamond to see the light shine in different ways.   2. the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirt is our power.  He is our counselor and Guide.  He points us to Christ!  He intercedes for us in prayer.   3. the Gift of Community.  The community of saints is a gift as humble beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.

May we walk with God in the hope of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in community.