Fear & Faith

fear

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.

Chorus:
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

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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.

New Course: The Folk Hymn Guitar Method by Blayne Chastain

Friends,

If you want to improve your guitar chops and master some old hymns at the same time, this course is for you!  I love Blayne and he is a great music leader/teacher.  This is an online course for a great price!

He teaches his favorite chord shapes, fingerpick/strum patters and “riffs” to help play & sing songs like “Amazing Grace” “Be Thou My Vision” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”  “Fairest Lord Jesus” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and more… BTW He does a great job with up-close video angles to help grasp and master the licks. Check it out!

Click here to visit his site…Screenshot 2018-05-15 22.29.00.png

Happy playing!
Scott

Check it out! MAST. (Monday after Sunday Team)

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Podcast interview – scroll to bottom to hear the interview

Last week I had the opportunity to join the MAST. team in their studio in Longmont, CO to record a podcast about Spiritual Freedom in leadership!  14 years ago I helped co-found Grace Church in Fort Collins, CO.  I remember someone saying that church planting is a lot like building a 747 mid-flight.  That is true. It is putting the pieces together in reality … not in a lab.  It has its joys but also fears.  There is the possibility of great success and failure.  But for many of us, with all that soul care, there is not a great deal of self-care.   With all the strategy, people and projects, we pastors, find ourselves physically and spiritually exhausted.  Our spouses exhausted. Our children on the back burner.

It is hard to know spiritual freedom in our leadership.  It is hard to be transparent.  It’s a challenge to reveal our needs.  It is a challenge to do self-care while serving so many people every week.  And so, many times, Mondays come around and pastors are depleted. They need to be reenergized. Refilled.  That is what Mast. is all about!

Now, there are lots of resources out there.  And I am excited to have this resource that Michael Behmer (owner and founder of Aspen Christian Counseling in Colorado) has created for soul care professionals.   MAST.   MAST. is an audio journal, written, recorded, produced and delivered monthly to subscribers working in ministry, missions and various forms of soul care. 

Every month since the first of the year I’ve gotten an email from MAST. letting me know there’s an new journal, full of entirely new content, available for me to listen, read, take from, and repurpose as I see fit.  It is fantastic.

Here are a few Issues to check out:

You can subscribe today  www.mastjournal.org

 

4 Liberating Truths…

There is not a week that goes by, in my life, that’s not marked by a struggle with control, fear, empty joy, and trying to prove myself to others. This week I was reading from the book Everyday Church and was encouraged by these following liberating truths set out by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

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FOUR LIBERATING TRUTHS… (pg 75)

Excerpt from Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

By Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

The following four liberating truths about God (“ four Gs”) target nearly all our sinful behavior and negative emotions.

1) God is great, so we do not have to be in control. We often want to be in control, so we dominate, manipulate, or overwork people. Or we fear things being out of control, so we worry. But God is sovereign. He is in control. Things may not always go the way we want, but God is in control, and he uses everything that happens to us for our good.

2) God is glorious, so we do not have to fear others. We often sin because we crave the approval of other people or fear their rejection. The Bible calls this the “fear of man” (Prov. 29: 25). We live to please other people, or we are controlled by peer pressure. The Bible’s answer is the fear of God. God is the glorious one whom we should fear. He is the one whose approval matters most, and he is the one whose approval we have in Jesus Christ.

3) God is good, so we do not have to look elsewhere. Sin often leads to pleasure, but its pleasures are empty and temporary. Only God brings true and lasting joy. The pleasures of sin are quick and immediate. So we need faith to turn to God for lasting joy.

4) God is gracious, so we do not have to prove ourselves. Many people act out of a desire to prove themselves. On the surface they may look impressive because they achieve many things or live good lives, but when things go well they are proud, and when things go badly they are crushed. They may look down on others because this makes them feel better about themselves or become bitter when their hard work is not rewarded in the way they want. It is also this desire that makes us determined to win an argument. The good news is that, while we can never justify ourselves before God, God has justified us through Jesus Christ. Jesus has done it all, so we have nothing left to prove.

 

 

THE WAY OF THE ESSENTIALIST

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.

The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Despite all these benefits, however, there are too many forces conspiring to keep us from applying the disciplined pursuit of less but better, which may be why so many end up on the misdirected path of the Nonessentialist.”

McKeown, Greg. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (p. 7). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Who are leaders?

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Dan Allender gives a great definition of a leader in his book Leading with a Limp.

“A leader is anyone who has someone following her. If anyone looks to you for wisdom, counsel, or direction, then you are a leader. If there is one little girl who looks at you and says, “Mommy,” then you are a leader. If there are fourteen high-energy boys holding aluminum weapons and screaming that they want to be first to hit the ball that rests on a rubber T-ball frame, then you are a leader.

It takes only one child grabbing your finger with a small, sometimes-trembling hand to signify that you are a leader. And from your child’s birth to the day you pass from this earth, you will continue to make life-shaping decisions as a parent. And of course it’s not just parents who lead with such power and influence. Anyone who wrestles with an uncertain future on behalf of others— anyone who uses her gifts, talents, and skills to influence the direction of others for the greater good— is a leader.

No one is a mere follower. If you are a follower of God, for instance, then you are called to lead. Every believer is called to help someone grow into maturity— and such is the core calling of a leader.”

Check out his book 

 

 

 

Grace Changes Everything

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A passage from Forgotten among the Lilies by Ronald Rolheiser (quoted in Common Prayer) :

“If the Catholicism that I was raised in had fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistakes.  It demanded that you get it right the first time.  There was suppose to be no need for a second chance.

If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life.  A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization, a mark that you wore like Cain.

I have seen that mark on all kinds of people: divorcees, ex-priests, ex-religious, people who have had abortions, married people who had affairs, people who have had children outside of marriage, parents who have made serious mistakes.  There is too little around to help them.

We need a theology of brokenness.  We need a theology which teaches us that even though we cannot unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence far beyond any egg we may have scrambled.  We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, he opens on for us.”