Fear is your friend

“Dare to stand before those you fear and speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”
Maggie Kuhn

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
– Paul, Apostle of Jesus,  1 Corinthians 2:3

 

I am guilty of judging content by delivery.  If someone is confident and smooth in their presentation, I sometimes give them much more credit that someone who is halting, trembles and shows their insecurity.

Fortunately God uses people like Paul who boasted of his weaknesses in order that Christ’s power would influence people, not his own power.

Last summer I stood up in front of about 100 people at a satellite campus of our church and presented a new ministry: hope for mental health.  My hands were shaking so badly I could not read my notes, and my voice was shaking as well.  But the comments I received afterwards about the content were positive, and we laughed about the delivery.

Perhaps you can relate less to the polished person than the trembling speaker, and you decline to talk about Jesus to others (friends, family, strangers) because of fear.

Fear is your friend.

If you trust Jesus with your eternity, trust him to fill you, and give you words and everything else you need to tell the people he died for, that he loves them.  Jesus takes full responsibility for you when you obey him.  And obeying Jesus is fun.  Being filled with Jesus and doing what he wants is the most fun I have ever had.  And I did it with shaking hands and shaking voice.  Fear was my friend because it drove away reliance on “me” and allowed Jesus to guide me, to do his work, his way, with his words.

Whatever your excuse for not doing what Jesus has commanded you to do is not worth holding onto.  Having the courage to obey Jesus does not mean you will not be afraid.  It means you love and trust Jesus more than your fear.

How can You win in this election?

It has been saddening to read/watch people viciously criticize and attack each other as they explain how their way of thinking is right and others’ thinking is wrong.  Fear has replaced Hope as the motivation to “win” in this election.  Fear cannot be satisfied.  It can only be replaced itself by Truth.  Jesus said he is the Truth.  So how can Jesus calm our Fear?

In the Old Testament in Proverbs in the Bible it says that Jesus holds the heart of the ruler in his hand and turns it wherever he wishes.  No matter who “wins” the election Tuesday a deeply flawed person will become President.  And we don’t have to worry.  Jesus has been preparing this moment since eternity past and he is not surprised or worried about what he will do.  The main thing I worry about is what will I do?  Will I humbly listen to Jesus and be true to what he tells me to do?  Or will I Fear and say “Jesus didn’t say that, that’s not reasonable”… and shut the eyes of my soul … and deny him?

 

Dear Jesus, help me to choose Love in every situation.  You are Love.  And you always provide a way to Love.  Thank you for answering this prayer.  You always do.

 

Perception is Reality

The phrase “Perception is Reality” was originally stated, I believe in the Reagan era, to describe a lack of honest and complete communication in national politics.  Then it was stated literally.  And some accept it as literal.

Jesus was and is no stranger to politics during his life, death and resurrection. And the distorted communication of the past lives on to today.

I invite you to read the post, https://i-m-4-u.com/2013/09/11/perception-is-reality-lee-atwater-is-mr-atwaters-statement-a-perception-or-reality-jim-mcnaughton/

In it I try to describe the difference between the “official” public perception and reality.

Nobody’s perfect (part II)

I am part of a team of people starting “HOPE” for Mental Health at Kentwood Community Church.  We are part of Celebrate Recovery founded by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.  This group of courageous people, who admit their imperfections and trust Jesus to deliver them, have been a catalyst to me being able to confess my sins to another trusted person (or small group).  I read my Nobody’s Perfect post from August of 2013 tonight and realized I had promised to get back to you when I had put this into practice.

Much better late than never.

I had told Jesus my sins but telling another person with skin on freed me from most of the grip of satan in my life.  No amount of prayer has freed me as much as telling my sin to another person.  Sin loses power when exposed.

I have known for years that I was “supposed to” confess my sins to another.  But I made excuses and told myself it really didn’t matter.  I lost years of my life to satan’s influence simply because “I know more than God.”

God is not mocked.  I reaped what I sowed.

But I have learned.

Hopefully.

If not now then when?

(My apologies for not giving credit to those I have learned from who have written on this).

We don’t control anything in life, except our decisions.
The Past is unchangeable,
The Future, we can prepare for, but not control,
And the Present we know incompletely, and what we do know can be distorted.

And, the only decisions you and I can control are those we are making right now.
Past decisions have made us who we are today,
Future decisions will either be made by us when the future becomes now,
or those future decisions will be made by others if we can’t make them.

What you are deciding right now is in your control and it is all you control.

But it is the birthplace of Hope.

The negative past can’t stop us.  It can inform our decision and influence our decision but cannot dictate our decision.  We are free to change.

The positive past does not guarantee a positive decision.  Again, it can inform and influence our decision, but we are free to fail.

The present decision opportunity is the key to using the past to make the future better.

And, the future can be changed radically by one decision.

The most radically changing decision I have ever made is to follow Jesus.

When I follow Jesus I feel more alive than I have ever felt.  He gives me purpose and significance.  He provides for my needs.  He loves me.  My love for him is shown by the way I treat the people he has made… and died for.  He died for you because he loves you too.  And you are just one decision away from knowing his love for you.  Please decide to love him back right now.  It’s the only chance you have.

Confict? Old and New Testament concerning "Did God pass the "test"? (posted Sunday 9/29/13)

Three years ago our family double tithed (gave 20% of our income) for the month of September.  I got the job of my dreams and many other things happened that were wonderful.  Then I listen to Andrew Farley’s interpretation of tithing more recently: The New Testament Church is not given a command to obey the Law or to tithe.  We are commanded to love, by walking with and keeping in step with the Spirit.  Specifically relating to giving we are told to give generously what we want to give, not under compulsion; that is, with joy.  So is the New Testament in conflict with the Old Testament?

Not at all.

Jesus said, “It is for freedom I have set you free.”  And, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  The Law was a fixed command.  But now Jesus and God live in us by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus can tell us exactly what He wants, He can customize His will to our unique situation.  And we can freely choose to do what He wants us to do.  And reap the positive consequences of obeying the One Who Loves Us Most.

Until Jesus tells me otherwise, we will tithe (out of our own free will).  Not because we feel obligated by law.  But because we love Jesus.

Jesus loves Muslims, free speech, and freedom of religion

(This plea for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and a statement of Jesus’ love for everyone was ironically censored by Google+. I have asked Google+ for a dialogue to learn what they object to and have not received any communication from them. Please read this post and let me know (specifically) how you interpret its ideas and why you think Google+ censored it, thank you).

I couldn’t sleep last night/this morning. So, I was on my computer and I came across a report on Loretta Lynch promising to prosecute any “Anti-Muslim” rhetoric “predicated on violence.” The writer of the report posed the question, “what exactly does that mean?” and answered, “possibly anything she wants it to mean.”

The America I grew up in (back in the day) defended freedom of speech and freedom of religion, though not in ways I always wanted. As an example, pornography, which in my opinion hurts those who make it and those who use it, was defended by the Supreme Court as an expression of free speech. Also, a certain religion that used an illegal drug in its worship was allowed to continue and use the drug legally by the Supreme Court when the court deemed it an exercise of freedom of religion.

I didn’t agree with those decisions but I recognized the need for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I realized that the preservation of those freedoms for all outweighed my objections to specific applications.  Now back to Loretta Lynch’s vague promise to prosecute. I agree with Loretta Lynch’s end, that is I don’t want a backlash against Muslims.  All Americans (Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists… ) deserve to live a life free of fear. But what I fear is the means to this end; as the Obama Administration and this current Supreme Court have proven capable of deliberately over-reaching the law, deliberately under-interpreting the law, and deliberately making-up law. What are they capable of doing to the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech in this instance?

After courageous American Christians lost their lives by standing up to a gunman and proclaiming their faith in Jesus, there was no U.S. government statement about the protection of Christians that would follow, (that I know of). President Obama did not even acknowledge that there had been a “hate-crime” against Christians. But when two Muslims in California “bent on Jihad” (a tenet of Islam that instructs Muslims to kill non-Muslims) kill innocent people, this government threatens to silence any speech critical of Islam and similar followers.

Jesus wants all people (including Muslims “bent on Jihad”) to know that he loves them, forgives them, and wants them to turn from evil and join him in loving God and loving people. That is what I want too.