A “Fearless” Conclusion

Today, I finished reading Max Lucado’s book, “Fearless”. First of all, I highly recommend his book to absolutely anyone. It has surely opened my eyes to the incredible amount of fear in our world and renewed my mind according to God’s will, regarding what it is that I should fear, and what it is that I should not. If you are interested at all in what I pondered this afternoon, as I began to draw a few conclusions from what I had read and what I felt God was attempting to teach me, then I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following journal entry that I ended up writing as a result…

Fear has a way of setting the world on fire; men and women hungrily eat up tidbits of dreadful news through every avenue of media they can. I’ve witnessed this with motherly figures in my life. Women that have positions in which they have nurtured and matured me throughout the years and whom I certainly love. They watch hours of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dateline, 20/20, and other shows that will remind them of the dangers of the world. It’s like a sick addiction where scary news must be read, shared with others, and fret over, while good news is quickly forgotten.

Forgetting seems to be a common issue that Christians deal with. God constantly reminds us to remember throughout the course of Scripture. Ministry leaders must remind us frequently that God is still there and He still cares. Christians, we have to remember. If we forget who our God is, then who will tell this broken and depraved world that there is indeed someone who can save them!?!?! God is here! Our Savior has come and will surely be coming back.

The old idiom, “you are what you eat,” can be taken quite literally. We will become whatever it is that we fill ourselves up with. If you feed on the fear that media wants to feed you, then you will be fearful. If you read magazines that tell you to worry about the shape and size of your body, then you will care far too much about your looks and potentially become critical of others. If you sip from the sex-crazed goblet of romance novels, pornography, and sensuality in general, then you will indeed become a sexually immoral being.

What if we began to fill ourselves up with the words of God? He says to us, “Be strong and courageous”, “do not fear”, and reminds us that we have “not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding blood”. If you want the world to change, then change it; one broken heart at a time…starting with yours. Yes, even your heart needs healing and indeed our minds need to be renewed. If you fill yourselves up with God’s Word and His Spirit, then you will surely become more and more Christ-like each day and the people in your life NEED Jesus’ love. Let’s face it, you and I are not capable of loving others to the degree that they need to be loved, especially if we are not filling our cups to overflowing with His gracious, perfect, and merciful love on a daily basis.

Ready for the bottom line? God is God. If one truly reveres (respectfully fears) God, then all other fears cease and courage is born. Max Lucado stated, “Courage is fear that has said its’ prayers.” How incredibly true! “When God is fully revealed to us and we ‘get it’, then we experience the conversion of our fear…’Fear of the Lord’ is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.” At the bottom of the same page, Lucado writes, “A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.”

Imagine a country filled with men that actually feared God…Imagine what they would be capable of under the direction of the Holy Spirit…Imagine how much your life would differ if you concluded to live a life that is free from the fears of this world, but maintained a healthy dose of the sobering fear of the LORD. Imagine…how friendships would be deepened, marriages restored, families brought together, nations united. The imagination is a powerful tool and a beautiful gift that God has given us. Anyone tired of simply imagining? Who is ready to make their wildest, Christ-centered dreams a reality?

It would appear that Max Lucado shares my love for coffee, as at the end of his chapter, “Caffeinated Life”, he writes, “Eternal glory. I’d like a large cup, please. ‘One venti-sized serving of endless joy in the presence of God. Go heavy on the wonder, and cut all the heartache.’ Go ahead and request it. The Barista is still brewing. For all you know, it could be the next cup you drink.” Christians, it is time to walk away from the paralysis of fear. It is time to truly live. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” (Max Lucado) Lay down your pride, O Christian, fall on your face before the LORD, admit that you are not adequate for the task as your forefathers have (even Jesus relied on prayer, do you think yourselves to be more capable than He?), ask Him for His blessing, and when He touches you, lifts you up, and instructs you to live according to His purpose, free from fear…then do just that. Live obediently.

Continuing the Fight,

Justin

Flirting With Darkness

How far is too far? What can I get away with in this situation? Will I end up getting caught at some point? This isn’t necessarily wrong…is it? Or my personal favorite, “well I didn’t necessarily lie, I just omitted part of the truth.” In a society filled with lies; falsified legal documents, hacked personal sites, shady business practices, and relational conflicts stemming from white lies told during our numerous gossip sessions (don’t even get me started on gossip…), there is much darkness.

We all know that this world is a broken and dark place, so get to the point Justin. Okay, okay, I will. My family of professing Christians, many of you are no different than the world! You embellish stories to make yourself seem the bigger man, you judge others in your cynicism, and often gossip about one another; rarely considering the lethal consequences this can have to relationships. There is a REASON that God instructed us to avoid such a practice 8 times within Scripture (Proverbs 11:13, 16:28, 18:8, 20:19, 26:21-23, Romans 1:28-30, 1 Corinthians 12:19-21).

One of my favorite lines from a Mark Driscoll sermon was when he said “I didn’t say your name…He did!” referring to the Holy Spirit as he addressed a crowd of men who had just been stripped of their pride. Keep this in mind if my above statements rattle your cage and you feel your blood begin to boil with defensive accusations of “I’ve seen this in your life too!” Oh trust me, I’m well aware. I’m a sinner, saved only by the grace of Christ, and any good thing that comes from my mouth, any worthwhile action, any fragment of holiness that has EVER been produced on my behalf was done by the work of Christ in my heart and life. I take full responsibility and blame for anything that is lacking in my character and life, as Christ has given me EVERYTHING that I need in order to overcome sin and to pursue righteousness. It’s a simple matter of SURRENDER. But oh how we loathe surrender…

We’ve convinced ourselves time and time again that we are capable of controlling our sinful nature and we fail every. single. time. Satan WANTS you to believe that you are capable of withstanding temptation on your own. “You don’t need accountability or to pursue the strength of Christ in order to overcome the power pull of greed, lust, anger, and the like, you can do it on your own…” We love those words of affirmation that the Devil offers us and allow them to feed our pride, giving birth to arrogance, which produces a cold and stubborn heart that despises rebuke and calls to righteousness. Hence allowing ourselves to become numb and apathetic to the ruthless effects of sin in our lives and the lives of those we love.

Brothers and Sisters, you CANNOT overcome sin on your own. You are absolutely incapable of any form of righteousness without Christ. Do not be fooled. Do not listen to these pitiful lies the Evil One feeds you daily through media, self-help books, ill-advised friends, and many other sources. You MUST seek Christ!

Fellow Believers, we must flee from darkness!

Genesis 39 depicts the story of Joseph who was being tempted by Potiphar’s wife to come back to bed with her. What does Joseph do? He FLEES! He runs…

 Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

We must not allow ourselves to walk precariously along the edge of the Grand Canyon of sin. The analogy being that you wouldn’t want your child to play in a busy street, so your rule might be that they play in your yard or on the driveway where they are safest from harm. However, if they wander too close to the street your natural response (or at least my Mom’s) will be to call out for them to come back closer to the house where they are under your watchful eye.

If you are reading this, God is calling you back to His House. He doesn’t want you disobeying and playing too close to the street where you are in danger of being hit in a head-on collision with the fatal consequences of sin.

Stop flirting with darkness and pursue the Light; Seek Christ.