Fear is a Powerful Force, But Faith Can Help You Overcome It

Like Every Other Decision in Your Life…It’s Up to You

Believing in something we can’t see can be hard. This is where faith comes in.

Last week we celebrated Easter and Christ’s resurrection. We talked about the women finding the empty tomb and how the apostles thought this was nonsense.

This week we’ll pick up from there. In John 20:19-31, the disciples were afraid and hiding in a locked room, when Jesus showed up. He showed them His hands and feet and gave them the Holy Spirit to go out and spread the message of how we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Thomas, one of the disciples wasn’t with them when this happened. When they told him…he didn’t believe them. He said, “I won’t believe unless I see and touch the scars.”

We’re more like Thomas than we would like to believe. We tell ourselves we believe, but do we really?

Thomas’s need for proof was like a farmer from South Carolina in the early 1900s.

 He said that he thought the existence of Europe was fictional. He believed that there was no such place as the continent of Europe. He found it hard to believe that anything existed beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, in 1918, the last year of WWI, he was drafted into the Army and had the opportunity to experience Europe as a fact. He said, “You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.”

This is often how we feel about life beyond the grave.

You wouldn’t believe what lies over there.

Thomas went on to share Christ’s message in India, where he was killed for the work he was doing.

We can believe because people like doubting Thomas gave their lives to get the word out.

It is easy to be afraid. Like the disciples too often we can hide behind locked doors. On the other hand, if we believe, we can share the message that we’ve been given.

Being afraid prevents us from doing amazing things.

The lyrics of Bette Midler song The Rose, from the movie with the same name, we are given a good example of what we miss when we live our lives in fear.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying
That never learns to live

Think of what can we do if we truly believe Christ is risen?

Don’t be afraid to live your life. Live faith over fear!

One of Life’s Biggest Tragedies is Not That We Lose, But That We ALMOST Win

FAITH or FEAR…Which is the Driving Force in Your Decision Making?

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about stepping out of my comfort zone. This was me doing something that was new and different from construction. I was afraid that it might not work, but I had faith that it was what I was supposed to do.

We all like operating in that place of comfort, after all, it’s well…comfortable.

As I’ve been working to do this thing that is out of my comfort zone, it seems that everywhere I turn this topic has been showing up. It’s been in things I read, discussions I’ve had, podcasts, blogposts, etc.

We can always find ways to delay or subvert the thing that we’re supposed to do. This shows up in all sorts of ways. Ultimately, it’s because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that it’s not good enough, or that no one wants what we have to offer.

One of the places that this topic of fear vs. faith was prevalent was in my re-reading of the 7th Decision in Andy Andrews book, The Traveler’s Gift.

In this chapter David Ponder meets the Archangel Gabriel in a huge place full of a wide variety of things that seem to have no connection to each other.

One of the things is a picture of a familiar looking boy and girl. Gabriel said, “The boy’s name is Jason and the girl’s is Julia.”

David looking at the photo, remarked, “I’ve always liked those names. My grandfather’s name was Jason. In fact, if Jenny had been a boy, Ellen and I were going to name the baby Jason. We always said we would name our second girl Julia. We wanted several children, but we never were able to afford . . .” A cold wave of nausea swept over David. Lowering the picture slowly, he gripped the side of the large basket with his other hand to steady himself. Breathing heavily, he said, “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” Gabriel answered.

David, asks, “Why is this being done to me? Why am I seeing this now?

Turning to face Gabriel, David said, “What is this place?”

Gabriel spreads his arms and said…

“This, my friend, is the place that never was.”

This is where things that were about to be delivered just as a person stopped working and praying for them. It’s full of dreams and goals of the less courageous.

David asked if he can keep the picture, but Gabriel said, “I’m sorry, but Jason and Julia don’t exist”.

“The tragedy of life is not that man loses, but that he almost wins.”

Why do we quit?

We quit because we lack faith.

Are you a person of faith or fear?

Which of these guide your everyday actions and decisions?

We’re driven by faith or fear—one or the other—both are the same. “Faith or fear is the expectation of an event that hasn’t come to pass or the belief in something that cannot be seen or touched.”

“Great achievers—are rarely realistic by other people’s standards. Somehow, these successful people, often considered strange, pick their way through life ignoring or not hearing negative expectations and emotions. Consequently, they accomplish one great thing after another, never having heard what cannot be done.”

If our plans are in alignment with God’s plan for us and we believe in our purpose anything is possible. In Mark 11:23-24 we’re told that if you believe, what you say will happen. If we ask for what we want in prayer and we believe, we will receive those things. Because…

“Nothing is impossible for God”

Have faith, don’t quite and you will win.

Oh, by the way…not only are we moving forward with the VB Homes project, we’re also moving forward with the customer consulting project.

The Untapped Power of the Mind is the One Thing That Keeps Most of Us Stuck

But the Mind Can’t Do It Alone…it Requires Action as Well

Why is it that we doubt what we know? There are countless examples of the power of the human mind, yet we think… “this power only works for other people, doesn’t apply to me”.

Not only is this lack of belief directed at ourselves, ultimately it shows our lack of trust in God.

In Mark 10:46-52, there’s an example of the power of belief and acting on that belief.

The blind Bartimaeus is sitting along the road begging for money as Jesus goes by, he begins shouting. The people told him to be quiet. He shouted for Jesus to help him even more.

Jesus told him to come to Him.

He got up and went to Jesus.

Jesus asked him what he wanted. He said, “I want to see again.”

Jesus said, “Go. You are healed because you believed.”

This is the power of believing and acting on those beliefs.

Too often people find themselves in a bad situation like Bartimaeus and give in and give up. They feel angry, hurt, defeated or afraid and just stay there. It’s okay to have these feelings…just not to stay there. We can fight the pain, or we can accept it, learn from it and move forward like Antoinette Bosco.

During her eventful life, Antoinette “Toni” Bosco had plenty of reasons to feel abandoned by God. A mentally ill mother, heavy responsibilities early in life, a disastrous arranged marriage, the death of three of her seven children – the list is a painful one. But, instead of turning her back on God, she decided to embrace Him even more.

She attributed much of her ability to cope in these difficult life situations to her Italian father who came to America as a young man. He taught her, “To be good to people, to help people, never be cruel and never be angry.”

There was a point of suffering when she just wanted to pull the covers up over her head and hide from the world. She was telling herself; I just can’t get up anymore. Then she heard another voice…

If you think you can’t or you think you can…you’re right.

“I would not have gotten through my life without my faith. I do believe that the Lord Jesus is with me all the time.”

Bosco has learned that you never know what’s going to come next in life, but no matter what, it is essential to keep the faith.

“I know every day my prayer is “Be with me and let me know that You are with me,’” she said. “So far that has sustained me.”

Use the power of your mind, given to you by your Creator and start moving forward to fulfill your life.

Going Slower Once in a While Helps Us Go Faster in the Long Run

Relax and Have Faith…Fear and Worry Won’t Solve Anything

There was a military study done to see how long soldiers could go without a break. It was determined that on the seventh day their output and performance was significantly less, even though the soldiers themselves didn’t see any difference.

Slowing down and resting is important. Even God rested on the seventh day after working hard for six. And we were made in His image after all.

We were designed to rest one day each week.

Most are familiar with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with five small loaves of bread and two fish. As is the case with all the Bible there are some great life lessons in this message.

Don’t stress – Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we get enough food to feed these people?” This was a text because Jesus already knew what He planned to do. Philip began stressing…he said, “We would have to work months to buy enough food for every person here to have a little piece.” Philip forgot who he was with. Jesus had this. Too often we forget who we’re with.

Trust in Jesus – Andrew on the other hand spoke up and told Jesus, “Here’s a boy with five loaves and two fishes. But, this isn’t enough for so many.” Even though Andrew didn’t know how…he knew Jesus did. He believed.

Sit down and be fed – The crowd was told to sit down, and they did. Jesus gave thanks for the food they had and passed it out. After the crowd had eaten all they wanted, there was twelve baskets of leftovers. If we will take time to sit down with God, in His Word and with other believers, we will be fed more than we can hold. Enough that we will have leftovers to share with others.

Make Jesus a priority – This crowd had walked a long distance without planning for the trip, just to be near Jesus and learn from Him. They were willing to put forth the effort just to be in His presence. Are we willing to make this kind of commitment to be near to Him?

Give everything we have to God – The small boy gave everything he had to Jesus and God expanded it to enough to feed the boy as well as everyone else that was there. He wasn’t stingy holding on to it, afraid that if he gave it up, he wouldn’t get any. He gave freely of what he had. Do we share our skills and abilities with others by giving them to God first?

God will fill our cup so full it will run over if we give everything to Him first!

It doesn’t do us any good to stress and worry about things. God has got this if we will just remember to slow down ‘once in a while’ and give everything to him.

When asked the definition of abundance, a 10-year-old boy answered, “It means…

We have everything we need, even if we don’t have everything we want yet.”

It’s Not About the Storms…It’s About Our Faith When Going Through Them

No Matter How Dark the Clouds Get, the “Son” is Shinning Behind Them

Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus asleep in the boat when the storm comes up. The people with Him were scared and worried. In their panic, they wake Jesus up and ask Him, “…don’t you care about us?” He stands up and commands the wind and waves to stop… Then He asks them,

“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

We face storms of different kinds. The important thing is to remember to have faith.

No matter how dark the storm clouds get, the Son is always shining.

Pastor Lee told a story about a family that moved to Florida. The kids decided to go snorkeling in the pond in their backyard. While swimming an alligator decided to go swimming too. The mother yelled at them to get out. One boy was under water and didn’t hear her. The mother rushed out to get the boy, but before she could get him out the alligator had the boy’s head. She got a hold and started pulling. Because of the snorkeling gear the alligator let go. As they were swimming to get out the alligator bit the boy’s foot. Once again, the mother pulled against the alligator. It turns out that he didn’t like the taste of the flippers any more than the head gear and let go again.

The boy had some cuts on his head and feet, but no major injuries. The family was grateful, found a church and started going. The mother said, “That close call gave us a new perspective on life and God.”

We’ve all had situations where life hits us in the head and we adjust our priorities.

Having faith doesn’t mean we won’t have storms…it means we don’t have to go through them alone. Having faith gives us the peace to curl up next to Jesus.

He’s got your storm…whatever it is.

This week’s message reminded me of the TobyMac song, Help Is on The Way. This was the first song of hope he had written since the death of his son.

TobyMac said in an interview,

“I was walking through that valley and kind of went downstairs one morning and turned to Psalms. I read this scripture that said, ‘God is rolling up his sleeves,’ and I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that in the Bible.’ What beautiful imagery, when you think of the God of all creation rolling up His sleeves on my behalf – on our behalf. And I just thought, ‘What promise.'”

This song speaks to going through storms and the assurance that God has our back –

I heard your heart, I see your pain
Out in the dark, out in the rain
Feels so alone, feels so afraid
I heard you pray in Jesus’ name

Sometimes it’s days, sometimes it’s years
Some face a lifetime of fallen tears
But He’s in the darkness, He’s in the cold
Just like the mornin’, He always shows

Well, I seen my share o’ troubles
But the Lord ain’t failed me yet
So I’m holdin’ onto the promise, y’all
That He’s rollin’ up His sleeves again

It may be midnight or mid-day
He’s never early, no, never late
He will stand by what He claimed
I lived enough life to say…

Help is on the way
Roundin’ the corner
Help is on the way

Have faith. No matter how dark the storm seems, help is on the way!

Extraordinary Things are Done Every Day by Ordinary People

You’ve Been Given Everything You Need to be Extraordinary, It’s Up to You to Use it

This past Sunday was Pentecost. This is the Christian commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. The coming of the Holy Spirit happened suddenly and came in a strong wind and fire, Acts 2:1-21.

The people who were together when this extraordinary thing happened, were just ordinary people. These followers of Jesus were feeling lost and alone after Jesus left. They no longer had their leader. How would they go on?

This small group of ordinary people are the beginning of our Christian faith. They are the core of the Church today.

These ordinary people did extraordinary things.

They didn’t think they had what it took to do the mission before them, but they did. Most of us feel this sense of inadequacy when we look ahead to our own missions.

It is amazing what long-range effect the little things we do, both good and bad can have. We rarely know what long term affect we will have and how those things will affect the future. Seemingly irrelevant things can make a huge impact.

In the book, The Butterfly Effect, Andy Andrews tells how the decisions you make and the way you treat others impact the world. This short book is a powerful story about a decision one man made over a hundred years ago, and the ripple effect it has on us individually, and in the world, today.

God will not ask you to do anything more than He knows you can.

Just like Jesus’ followers, we’ve been given the things needed to accomplish our mission. –

  • Power – Nothing is impossible with God. We’ve been given the strength needed to do the things we are supposed to. The power has been promised to us. It is available…not delivered. It is up to us to access it and use it.
  • Purpose – Just like the disciples were given their purpose on Pentecost, we’ve been given a purpose. Like power, this doesn’t work without our participation. We need to open our ourselves to God’s vision and do something. Without a vision the people parish, Proverbs 29:18.
  • Presence – The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in our lives. This is us inviting God in, to be an active part of our everyday lives. Once again, we have a responsibility, if we aren’t open to It and accepting of It, we won’t get It.

It is up to you every day to use your gifts and abilities doing ordinary things, letting God turn them into something extraordinary.

Fear is Easier to Deal with When You’re Not Alone

We’re All Afraid of Something…What is it That You’re Afraid of?

Fear and anxiety are a part of life. It comes in a variety of places and levels for each of us.

A lady who was afraid of flying was on a plane. This fear was amplified when the plane was delayed a few times before takeoff. While in the air, the cabin lights began to flicker. The lady asked the flight attendant if she could please do something to fix the lights. The attendant went and turned them off. The person across the aisle leaned over and said, “Whatever you do…don’t say anything about the engines.” 😊

I don’t know, but I doubt that turning off the lights did much to help the lady’s fear.

In John 20:19-31 we see how Jesus’ disciples were afraid and hiding from the Romans. Their world had just been turned upside down with Jesus being killed.

Jesus’ followers, except Thomas, were meeting behind locked doors when Jesus shows up. This helps to subside their fear…for a little while. The group kept telling Thomas how Jesus had shown up.

He wasn’t going to believe until he saw for himself.

Then a week later, the followers were meeting again. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus showed Thomas the proof of the holes in His hands and side. Jesus told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen…blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.

Believing without seeing is hard.

Whether it’s flying in a plane, spiders, roller coasters, not having enough money, being stranded in the middle of the ocean, snakes, letting people down, there is something we’re afraid of. For some this fear can be debilitating. For others it’s more of a nuisance. Regardless the fear is real.

A class of seminary students were shown a picture drawn by a boy that was sick and dying. The boy had not been talking since he went to the hospital.

The picture was fairly typical of pictures drawn by children. It was a picture of the boy’s family. It had a house, dad, mom and his siblings standing in the front yard. The part that was different was him standing by himself off to the side facing a tank that was about to run over him.

The class was given copies of the drawings and asked to make changes to the picture that might help the boy cope. There were several changes that were shown to the boy. The one that got the boy to open up and talk was the one that had a picture of a person simply standing beside him in front of the tank.

We all need someone to stand beside us when we’re facing tanks.

Jesus will stand beside us when we’re facing tanks…if we will just ask Him.

A Journey of Faith Takes Time and is Scary

It’s Much Better When We Have the Support of Others

We had another faith Sunday at church the past week. It is amazing and wonderful to hear about people’s faith journeys. Each one of us in our own unique place in our journey through life.

It’s easy to be consumed by all the things going on in our own busy lives and forget those around us. We often feel that we are going on this journey alone. We forget that there is help when we need it.

Isolation is one of the most difficult things we will ever experience.

We need to remember that everyone deals with the same struggles we do. Being willing to support those around us, even in small seemingly insignificant ways, can be live changing. The simple act of noticing people can be one of the biggest.

Being noticed validates our worth.

Both the needing and helping sides of the journey were evident in the stories shared. There were stories of the church as a whole or individuals giving support in difficult times when there was struggling. We’ve all needed this type of support in our own lives.

As I was reading The Traveler’s Gift there was an example of what a faith journey is like. In this book David Ponders traveling through time meeting with various people who give him wisdom and insight into the seven decisions for determining personal success.

David meets Christopher Columbus on the Santa Marie as he’s crossing the ocean. As the two men are talking, Columbus’s First Officer confronts the Captain, explaining that the men have had enough, and they are going to turn around and go back.

Columbus explains that they have been at sea for 64 days and only have 10 days of food and water left. Turning back would be futile. These men did not have the vision or faith that Columbus did.

It would take a lot of faith to get on a boat and set sail for an unknown destination at an unknown distance…but Columbus had a vision and faith. He believed and trusted God.

We need to believe and trust in God as we go on our journey.

It took years for Columbus to get the expedition organized. It took support from other people. It wasn’t instantaneous and he didn’t do it by himself. And neither will we.

Get support when you need it. Give support when you can. Believe in God and yourself and continue your journey.

Faith is Not for the Weak of Heart

You Have to be Intentional and Use It

Once again, this past Sunday technology wasn’t playing nice. The internet at the church did not want to cooperate. Life is full of things not going as we plan.

This morning my truck decided to be unagreeable and was not accelerating properly. My mechanic is only a few miles away, so I turned around and went to see him. When I got there, I found that he was closed. With a little checking I found that his family was headed to a wedding in Wyoming and won’t be back until Monday.

I have things to do, places to go, people to see.

This changed everything. At this point I had some decisions to make and I made them. First was to give this situation to God and believe that He would take care of this. Then, I went back home, made the necessary changes to my schedule, got some other transportation and continued moving forward. Then, as I was driving to town, I looked at the fuel gauge and it was on E. It was another faith moment…God this is in Your hands. I made it to the gas station before running out.

No this isn’t what I had planned for today, but most days don’t turn out like we plan. Life is full of unseen situations. Like the woman in Matthew 15:21-28, she was dealing with a daughter who was suffering. She was faced with choices just like us. She could live with it or she could be brave and take it to Jesus. This was not an easy thing for her because she was a Canaanite not a Jew.  

Her courage and faith made the difference.

Her daughter was made well. We can choose to put our trust in tools, equipment, technology, other people, etc. These things will let us down. We need to trust in God and believe that He will do what He says.

Have a brave heart and put your faith in God!

What Does It Mean to Have Faith?

It Means the Willingness to Step Out of the Boat

Faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. This is much easier to say than to do. Saying it doesn’t require the level of commitment that doing does.

In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus’ followers are alone in a boat in the middle of the night and there’s a storm. They see something on the water and think it’s a ghost, but it’s Jesus. Peter says, “…if it’s really you, then command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says, “Come.”, and Peter gets out of the boat and walks to Jesus. Then Peter gets scared and starts to sink. Jesus reaches out and catches Peter and says, “Your faith is small.”

How big is your faith?

I think this story of Peter getting out of the boat is a great example of our humanness. Faith is easier in the beginning when you’re still close to the solid comfort of the known. The real test is when you get out in the middle. The goal still looks far away, and we begin to doubt ourselves and our decision.

It requires faith to step out.

Imagine standing on the edge of a wide and deep canyon. It is scary, standing there you can’t see the bottom or the other side. You know that on the other side is something important. It could be a person, a business, a home, the life of your dreams.

The only way to get there is to go across a swinging rope walkway. Some of the boards on the walk are missing and some are broken. The rope is frayed and looks to be unwinding. You can’t even see the whole bridge, so you have no idea what condition the part you can’t see is in. This fear is what keeps most people stuck in the mediocrity. It’s too scary to step out there on the bridge.

What if the thing on the other side is the thing that God wants for you? To have it you just need to have faith and go get it.

We want to have faith. We start to have faith. Then we quit.

The loss of our faith gradually happens as we mature. As we go through life, we become more and more cynical. We witness discouragement and heartache and we lose our faith. In Matthew 18:3 and Mark 10:15 we are told to enter the Kingdom of God; we need to be more like children.

Andy Andrews talks about a childlike faith in his book The Traveler’s Gift. In the Persistent Decision, one of the seven life principles in the book, he speaks to faith. He says, “How long must a child try to walk before he actually does so? A child would never ask the question, for the answer does not matter. By persisting without exception, my outcome – my success – is assured.” A child would not think twice about running out on that bridge over the canyon.

We need to have the faith of a child.

Faith requires that we put our complete trust and confidence in Someone other than ourselves. If we ask God to walk on the water and He says, “Do it”, we can be sure that it’s safe to step out of the boat.