Monday, January 1, 2018

What is your "one thing" for 2018?

What is your "one thing" for 2018?

This one thing I do...

Wow! Can you believe that the year of 2017 is officially now behind us?! Much of the chatter online and in TV commercials centers around the topic of losing the weight that we probably picked up over the holidays. OK, maybe it has been hanging along for a bit longer than the holidays but at least we can blame it on that! While I know that each of the moments from our timeline in this past year is part of who we are today, are there any things that you would like to leave behind? Below are two really good and inspirational quotes.

“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important
decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who have you decided you really are
now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you
decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it
powerfully.” Anthony Robbins

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You
don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of
your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash

There is a fellow named Paul (who wrote about half of the New Testament in the Bible), and he writes in Philippians 3:13-14, No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

For those that are committed to a relationship with Christ, I am always shocked at how many people may believe that Jesus has forgiven them for things in their past (who would be willing to call Him a liar?!), but they have yet to extend forgiveness to their own self. Do you need to forgive yourself about anything, no matter if it is something from last week, last year, last decade, etc?  Do you really want to haul that baggage with you into 2018? 

It is always unfortunate and heartbreaking to see a homeless person on the street. So much of our society is just a paycheck or two away from losing their place of residence, but sometimes you see the homeless with a shopping cart or tons of bags. In their situation, you can actually see the baggage or belongings that they have or are dragging around. If you could see what your baggage looks like and how much space it occupies, what would it look like? Would you really want it to go away? Many times people are more comfortable with the pain of the past than the thought of letting it go. I challenge you to choose to let it go. Ask Jesus to help you and/or find someone that would be willing to help you pray through letting it go. Jesus wants you to have all the freedom that He purchased for you on the cross!

My former wife, Sally (who I lost to colon cancer), shared with me some wise counsel that her father had told her. After Sally got her driver's license, her dad told her not to look in the rear view mirror and just concentrate on the road ahead. If you don't appreciate that counsel, the next time you drive in a major downtown somewhere, start looking in your rear view mirror as much as possible. That will cure you! It kind of freaks me out wondering whether the car behind me is tailgating or whether they will rear end me. 

Yesterday, my wife and I were with a group of friends where we had some worship time together and then we talked about what we would like to leave behind in 2017 and not drag into 2018. We handed out slips of paper, then wrote those things down on paper. At the end of our time together, we threw them in the fire as an offering. It was a metaphor and act of faith. By choosing to name it and choosing to write it down, we also chose to offer those things to the Lord. We trust Him to provide the grace and mercy necessary to help us move into this new year without the encumbrance of things in the past that would not be productive as we walk into 2018.

I hope you choose to focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which you are being called.

“My Future Decided” by Hillsong United
Lyrics:- You hold the future in your hands 
You know my dreams and
you have a plan
 And as you light my way, I’ll follow you
My eyes on all of the above 
My soul secure in all you’ve done

My mind's made up
 And you are the only one for me
Jesus, Savior, in my life you are everything
 My future decided,
I will praise your name 
And I know that I am, I am yours
Yeah, I know
that I am, I am yours
You hold the earth in your command
 You are the rock on which I
 And as I live each day, I’ll follow you
My eyes on all of the above
 My soul secure in all you’ve done

My mind's made up
 And you are the only one for me

Jesus, savior, in my life you are everything 
My future decided,
I will praise your name
 And I know that I am, I am yours

Yeah, I know that I am, I am yours
Aren’t afraid, aren’t ashamed  Lord we know who we are
 We are your
people and we won’t be silent
 Unified hear us cry at the top of our
 You are our God and we will not be shaken
Aren’t afraid, aren’t ashamed Lord we know who we are
 We are your
people and we won’t be silent 
Unified hear us cry at the top of our
 You our God and we will not be shaken
Jesus, Savior, in my life you are everything 
My future decided, I will
praise your name
 And I know that I am, I am yours
 Yeah, I know
that I am, I am yours (2)
Yeah, I know that I am, I am yours
 Yeah, I know that I am, I am

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"You are going to die today." NOT!

"You are going to die today." Those were the first words I heard upon waking up the morning that my wife and I were to head down to northeastern Atlanta to visit her family for Christmas. Oh yeah..... I did not actually hear this with my ears but that is what I heard in my head. So, I got up and went next door to the "prayer room" which once was a spare bedroom and is now a space dedicated to hang out with the Lord. I sit in one chair and my dog sits in the other.

I began to pray about whether what I had heard was from the Lord or not and I clearly got the response that it was the voice of the enemy NOT the voice of Jesus. Whew! I thought so but wanted to check nonetheless. If hearing from the Lord is not a something you are in tune with yet, I will recommend a couple of books** at the end of this blog post. Jesus said that His sheep (anyone that has invited Him into their heart) would know His voice (read John 10) and I believe that prayer is intended to be a two-way conversation, not just a relating of our prayer shopping list.

My wife and I prayed before we left our home, that the Lord would post holy, warring angels around our property to protect the contents but especially the cats (our dog got to go with us). Included in the content of that prayer was that we would arrive safely and without incident. As an added precaution, I asked a couple of friends to pray for our safety too. Once on the road, I told my wife what had happened earlier that morning. We had a great day traveling down to Atlanta and we always enjoy time in the car to talk and brainstorm.

But here is where this gets a little more weird or maybe this is already too weird for you?! Please hang with me a little while longer. Even though the taunt that I heard earlier was probably an attack to make me fearful, the more I thought about it the more excited I got. First of all, I had absolutely no fear about heading out of town and even though the enemy wanted to distract me from my game, I had even more confidence about leaving and going on the trip. The more I realized that I had no fear about whether I would actually die, the more empowered I felt.  Driving to Atlanta is one thing, but where you really risk your life is when you wander onto I-285. The chances of losing your life certainly increases! Also, I had total confidence that if I was to meet up with a proverbial Mack truck, I knew where I would wake up. "I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. Now you can know you have life that lasts forever." I John 5;13 NLT

Next, I began to think of all the good things that have happened this past year in 2017 and questioned how I would feel about it if I actually did lose my life that day. I felt pretty good about the fruit (and the challenges) from the past year but it made me even more excited about the upcoming year of 2018. The Lord had done some really amazing things and He even let me participate in it a lot. I got to see and experience some really cool stuff.

So what about you? Do you struggle with fear? How do you respond when the enemy is taunting you or lying to you? Have you ever taken the time to categorize all the voices in your head? Yes, it is intended as a serious question! What is the source of what you hear? How do you combat the lies of the enemy? How do you test whether what you hear is correct or not? What kind of emotion does it conjure up at the thought of today being your last day on earth?

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10 NIV

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

*There are a lot of good books on this topic and while I have read many of them, here are a few of my favorites: "Hearing God" by Dallas Willard, "Hearing God in Conversation" by Sam Williamson, "Extreme Sheep" by Timothy Jones. There are even special ones just for kids that are really great too.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Praying effectively for your kids

The world is a scary place for kids and for parents! Below is an outline that I used to speak to some of the parents at my local church. Hopefully, what you read below will promote some healthy discussion in your own family.
There are at least three categories of perils for kids out there:
1.     Physical dangers (school shootings, abductions, accidents, sexual abuse, etc)
2.     Emotional and mental dangers (TV and DVDs, video games, rejection, etc)
3.     Spiritual dangers (secular or occult values in school & media, exposure to other religions such as Wicca & Islam, by showing them in a favorable light, yet persecution of kids with strong Biblical values)
We should be praying daily for the safety of our kids, regardless of their age. People often say, “At least we can pray.” However, prayer is the first and maybe the most powerful thing we can do to protect our children. Naturally, prayer is a weapon that we must develop and use wisely.
It is very important to realize the authority you have as a believer AND as a parent.  As a believer, you can come boldly to the throne of God and make your requests. Hebrews 4:16 says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Who is old enough to remember Flip Wilson’s impression of Geraldine and “the Devil made me do it”?! One extreme is to not believe that Satan exists and the other extreme would be to believe that there is a Devil behind every rock! There needs to be balanced approach to this topic.

It is important to teach kids that there is a battle between good and evil and that Jesus has already won it! Our world is filled with fear, both from adults and kids. One commandment that Jesus shared over and over was “Fear not.”

Spiritual Warfare and Worldviews.
Western worldview teaches that everything has a natural explanation.
Spirits (even if they exist) rarely, if ever, cause anything to happen.

Biblical Christianity teaches:
Satan and Demons do exist. Good and Evil does exist.
Lucifer and demons are fallen angels.
They can communicate with people.
They can enter and torment people.

But… is some good news!! Jesus has authority over demons!
And that means that as followers of Jesus, we also authority over demons.
See Ephesians 6:10-12A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”                                                               
Keep kids from the dark stuff and teach them about the love of God.
When scared say the name of Jesus, out loud.
Say, “You are not welcome here, in the name of Jesus.”

Nightmares for kids? Ask Jesus to enter the nightmare. Yes, seriously. Or you might ask, “Jesus, why am I having this nightmare?” “Jesus, is there something that I did or saw?” We don’t let Missy watch movies where a guy breaks into the house and tortures the family and pets!

Pornography and sexual sin
Statistics show that the average son sees porn by the age of 11, so it might be wise to err on the early side and address the issue with him by age 10. From the booklet, “Porn Again Christian” by Mark Driscoll and

Generational Healing. Sins of the family can be passed down from generation to generation. There are many patterns. Think of it as spiritual DNA. We ask Jesus to cut off all those and sever the legal agreements that may have been made.                                   
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18

You might want to check out "Bondage Breaker" by Dr. Neil Anderson for a much deeper understanding of this topic. At my church, we use his workbook, "Steps to Freedom" as a follow up to the Alpha Course. Both of these items are incredible tools.

The following prayers are from another another excellent resource called, "What Every Believer Should Know About Spiritual Warfare" by Marcus Warner.
Prayer for confessing and cancelling sin: “Lord, Jesus Christ, I confess that I have been involved in ______________. Please forgive me for this sin and misuse of my body and cancel any ground that the Enemy may claim because of this sin. I choose now to receive your forgiveness and in so doing to forgive myself so that I will not remain in bondage to this sin any longer. Amen.
Prayer for choosing to forgive: “Lord Jesus Christ, I choose to forgive___________ for _________(list the ways in which you have been hurt or wronged and the consequences it has created for me). I choose to no longer hold this offense against my offender in any way. Please help me to forgive them, just as much as you have forgiven me.
Prayer for cleansing a home: “In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I renounce any claim that any demons may have on this home (or other property). As one with authority over this home and as a child of the King, I renounce the sins that opened a door for any demonic presence in this place. Therefore, in the name of Jesus, I command every demon to leave this place now and go where my Lord Jesus Christ sends you. And now, I invite the Holy Spirit to sweep this place clean and fill it with His presence. I ask that the blessing and peace of God will rest on this place so that it may be a haven of rest, a home blessed by God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Snow had already begun falling on that Thursday night for the monthly teaching of the “Learning to Pray” series and I was thinking that nobody would be coming out on this nasty night to hear a message about depression. Honestly, I was not very pumped up about it either! Fortunately, several people came and the presence of the Lord during our time together, particularly during the prayer time, was unmistakable. The next morning I heard some awful news that reinforces the need for discussing this topic. A girl from my hometown, had found her husband (the father of her two sons), dead from a successful suicide attempt.

Let me inject a little bit of hope, found in I Peter 1:3-5, before we go down this dark corridor.  “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.”

Clinical depression is a major psychiatric disorder that is rapidly increasing in our society. Recent statistics reveal that clinical depression plagues about 18-20% of the population. According to the World Health Organization, depression is expected to become the second leading cause of disability worldwide by the year 2020 (after heart disease).

The church is guilty of playing-down the need for treatment of what can be a very debilitating disorder. A Christian may actually feel shame over their depression because they may believe they are a moral failure. Like if they were a “good”  Christian, they would not feel the way they do or just be able to snap out of it.

Scripture reveals a lot about people experiencing discouragement and depression in the Bible. The Psalms, which speak to the human condition, are filled with emotional moods, ranging from complete joy to utter despair.

Elijah is known as the greatest of the Old Testament prophets and after one of the most incredible victories in the OT, he told the Lord he was ready to die! (I Kings 18 & 19.  King Saul was tormented by a demon. I Samuel 16:14, 23
Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” Think about the story of Job!
King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived had this to say in Ecclesiastes 1:1,2m “Meaningless! Meaningless!, says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun”.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus falls into near despair as he takes on the sins of the world. He comes out to his disciples for comfort three times, but they are unable to comfort him, for they are suffering from their own sorrow. God sent an angel to comfort Jesus. Mark 14:36-45 and Luke 22:39-45. Following his betrayal of Jesus, Judas became depressed and committed suicide.  Matthew 27:3-5

Unfortunately, depression is as prevalent in the Christian population as it is in the secular world. Many famous ministers have struggled with depression. Charles Spurgeon was a famous English preacher and he struggled with depression throughout his life. The writer of the famous hymn, “Come thy fount of every blessing”, Robert Robinson, was only 22 when he wrote that song in 1757. Unfortunately, he committed suicide after years of depression.

Depression is not just someone needing to have a better attitude or just being able to snap out of it. Depression is a medical condition and illness that involves brain physiology and function. There is a depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain, mainly serotonin and norepinephrine, which are necessary for normal brain functions.

What are the causes of depression?
A)   Physiological: The brain decreases the production of necessary neurotransmitters. Antidepressants try to stabilize or supplement the brain’s production of these neurotransmitters.
B)   Socio-psychological: Severe trauma that occurs in childhood causes the brain to be modified.

There are different levels of depression. Not everyone who is clinically depressed will display all of those symptoms but depression is a form of suffering that cannot be reduced to one universal cause. Like most forms of suffering, it feels private and isolating. David wrote in Psalms 88:18 that “darkness is my closest friend”.  The entrance to Dante’s version of hell read, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

But it is not just pain. It feels like meaningless pain. If pain leads to childbirth, it is tolerable, but if it just leads to blackness or nothing, then it threatens to destroy us.

Abe Lincoln thought that pain would lead to death, that his body could not tolerate it. “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally, distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

What are some of the causes of suffering?
Other people are one cause of hardship and depression. When you look through the Psalms you will find that about half of them are cries to the Lord because of oppression by others. People can betray and abuse.

We ourselves are a cause of suffering. Fears, anger, selfish desires, can all be lurking behind some depression. Anger, especially is known to be a notorious cause. A friend of mine has said to me many times, depression is anger turned inward.

Our bodies are another obvious cause of suffering. Disease, old age, post-partum struggles and chemical imbalances are just a few of the physical causes relevant to depression.

Satan, our enemy, is another cause of suffering. He lies to us and he can affect us physically. His purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. Although we know that Satan caused Job’s suffering, Job did not. Evan after his fortunes were restored, he never knew why he suffered. Although he asked for an audience with God to plead his innocence, the only thing God revealed was that he is God and Job was not.

Instead of teaching us how to identify the causes of suffering, Scripture directs us to the God who knows all things and is fully trustworthy. Turning to God and trusting him with the mysteries of suffering is the answer to the problem of suffering. Suffering is intended to train us to fix our eyes on the true God.

The age-old question is “How could God allow such a painful, life-draining event in your life? How could such a God care? How could He be good?
There are two ways to ask those questions. One is with a clenched fist; the other is with an open heart.

So, as a sidebar, what difference does it make when you see your own struggle with depression as a form of suffering?

Life is about desiring to know Him or to avoid Him. Whom will you trust in the midst of pain? Whom will you worship? Lets look back at Job again. In Job 1:2, we read, that when he lost all his children, he fell to the ground in worship, and made a shocking declaration, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised”.

One important question is, “Where do you turn – or, to whom do you turn – when you are depressed?” Suffering is not a journey that we should not take alone.

If you ever think God is far away and indifferent, here is a surprising revelation. From the foundation of the world, God knew your sufferings and declared that he himself would take human form and participate in them. This is not a distant, indifferent god. Jesus Christ did not come to take away our pain and suffering, but to share in it. Jesus was called a “man of sorrows” in Isaiah 53:3. Jesus suffered and he knows our suffering.

So how can depression be treated? The most successful way is to treat all three levels of who we are, as children of God. Jesus taught us that we are comprised of a body, soul, and spirit. We are a seamless being of body, mind and soul.

The body can be treated by medication prescribed by a physician.

The mind can be addressed by praying against spiritual strongholds – replacing the lies we have come to believe with truth. What did Jesus do when he was tempted by  Satan? He quoted Scripture. Try to catalog or figure out what “lies” the enemy keeps throwing at you. Then, find a Scripture that speaks to that. Write it down on an index card and tape it to the mirror in your bathroom where you get ready in the morning, put it in your car, take it to work, etc.

The spirit can be addressed by praying the truth of scripture.


O my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God”.
Psalms 59:9-10

“My shield is God Most High”. Psalms 7:10

The Lord is my rock, my fortress….the horn (strength) of my salvation, my stronghold”.  Psalms 18:2

 “Do not worry” Luke 12:22-34

 “Perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:8

God invites those who experience depression to learn that, whatever the cause, depression may reveal our faith and serve as a catalyst for growth rather than the reason for despair.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

“Trust in him at all times, O people: pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalms 62:8

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.” I Peter 1:18

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spirit of Rejection

What is rejection? It can take many forms. Anybody remember the Johnny Cash song from around 1971 called, "A Boy Named Sue"? That is an extreme case of rejection!
Recently, I taught a class at my home church on the challenging topics of Rejection, Bitterness and Unforgiveness.

We have all experienced some kind of rejection in our lives. It is a sense of feeling unwanted. Things like not being picked to be on a team at school, being stood up on a date or being laid off from a job due to downsizing. We desire people to love us but we feel as though they do not. You want to be included yet you may feel excluded. You might always feel like you are on the outside looking in.

We can suffer rejection from at least three sources:
Rejection from others. This can come from our family of origin and may be the most common cause. Due to a perceived (or real) favoritism among others in our family or feeling as though your parents never had any time for you. 

I grew up in the church and at the age of 5, I began singing solos in church and was born with an artistic nature that my mother encouraged and nurtured. I learned early that one way to get attention was with my creative talents. The more people cheered me on, the more it fed into a bigger problem. It was not until about ten years ago, that I attended a conference by Dr Neil Anderson, author of “The Bondage Breaker” and “Victory over Darkness”.  That was the first time I had been exposed to a teaching around performance based acceptance and I identified with it immediately.

Rejection from God. I have spent most of my adult life trying to get an accurate view of God as a father. For much of my life, God seemed to me like a mean guy with a scar on his face holding a lightening bolt, waiting to zap me the minute I stepped out of line. From my distorted view, maybe God would accept me, based on performance. Fortunately, I learned about grace in my mid 20s and have been in "recovery" ever since as a tender Father, reveals to me more and more what He is really like. Presently, I am presently involved in a church culture that is accepting of people, wherever they are in their walk and the lack of a judgemental attitude towards others.

Rejection from ourselves. No matter how difficult we might have found life to be, many times no one is harder on us and our self esteem than ourselves. We begin to believe the lies and distortions from the Enemy due to life experiences. Then, we are all the more critical of ourselves and start a perpetual cycle of defeated living.

Ready for some really good news? God thinks you are awesome! We read in Ephesians 2:10 that "We are God's workmanship." You are God's workmanship!

The truth is we were created to be loved, accepted, and appreciated. Rejection starves a person from love and acceptance that they were designed to receive. The problem is that when we turn to others for that love and acceptance, we are setting ourselves up for failure and the damage of rejection. Only God can be trusted as the source of our identity.

So, as a little checkup.....What or who defines you? Is it your job? Your family? What kind of car you drive or what kind of neighborhood you live in?

Rejection is a form of unbelief. Rejection says that you are not accepted by God and in order to be accepted by God, you have to be accepted by other people first.
This kind of thinking sets up man as our god by saying that who you are and who you are not, rests on a human who accepts you or does not accept you.

Anybody know what is the first of the 10 Commandments is? Idolatry. When we seek the approval and acceptance of man, above seeking that from God, then we are guilty of idolatry.

Many times, the progression of rejection is like this: Rejection, loneliness, self-pity, misery, depression, despair or hopelessness, then finally death or suicide.
The primary result of rejection is the inability to receive love from others and to communicate love to them. That is why rejection is one of the greatest hindrances to divine love. We all know people who can believe in the forgiveness and saving power of the cross for other people, but not for themselves.
However, there is a way out! When we base our identity upon what the Word of God has to say about us, we can become virtually rejection-proof. We can become immune from the wounds of rejection as long as we are not basing our identity upon what some other person thinks of us.
How did Jesus deal with it? He was 100% human and 100% God, yet was tempted in every way. As our great High Priest, He is familiar with our sufferings.
Isaiah 53:2-3 “He was despised and rejected by men.”

Even though Jesus was despised and rejected by men, he refused to be defined by that rejection. He never adopted a "spirit of rejection." He refused to allow "rejection" to define who he was or to stop him from fulfilling his Father's mission.

In essence, Jesus said, "I refuse to be identified by who rejects me. I will only be identified by who accepts me -- My Father in heaven."

Lets read in Galatians about who accepts us….

Galatians 4:4-7 “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

We were bought, we were adopted, as His own child,  He gave us His Spirit, and that we are not a slave but an heir!!

The prerequisite for being free of Rejection is to accept God’s love. Here is a suggested prayer:
“Father God, I thank you that you love me; that you gave Jesus your Son to die on my behalf; that He took on my sin; that He took my rejection; that He paid my penalty. Because I come to You through Him, I am not rejected; I am not unwanted, I am not excluded. You really love me. I am really Your child. You are really my Father. I belong in Your family. I belong to the best family in the universe. Heaven is my home. I really belong. Oh God, thank You, thank You. Please give me the ability and the freedom to love you, my Father in heaven."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fear Factor

Matthew 14:27
New Living Translation (NLT)
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Fear is the one emotion that can paralyze us and stop us from functioning normally in everyday life. Healthy fear serves a beneficial purpose but unhealthy fear can make us its slave.  What are some of the most common fears that people struggle with? According to surveys, they are: ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, clowns, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels and bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations and public speaking. Psychologists say that people are born with two basic fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises.

What about you? What are you afraid of? How do you react when you are fearful? I have been asking friends and clients lately, what they are afraid of. Wow! There are a lot of people with a lot of fears and they don’t have to think about it very long to come up with a response!

Over and over again, God tells us in His Word, not to be afraid. Any time that an angel appears on the scene, the first thing they say is “Don’t be afraid!”. The most common command from Jesus was “fear not”. Out of 125 commands, 21 of them urge us to “not be afraid” or “not to fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” of “be of good cheer”. The one statement he made more than others was, “Do not be afraid.”

Consider this writing of Max Lucado, “Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to the timidities did that.  But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the door.” 

Fear is meant to be a guardrail, not a roadblock. Fear is one emotion that can paralyze us and shut us down. Some roots of excessive fear are:
Dysfunctional patterns in families, Lack of protection during childhood, Worry, Generational fears, Traumatic experiences, and Demonic influences.

The disciples of Jesus were just as fearful as everyone else at that time. They were just as fearful as we are today. Look at how Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times. Who hung around at the crucifixion with Jesus? Only a few women and one disciple named John. Everyone else bailed on him. Why? Their hearts were filled with fear. Their world had been turned upside down.  They were terrified. Can you relate?

Yet, after the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, this fear-filled group of disciples became warriors. How? Maybe there is hope for us?! Something called Pentecost happened and something Jesus had promised arrived: the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were transformed and life was never the same.
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

There is an antidote to our fear. If we trust God more, we can fear less.
The closer we get to God, the more fear will dissipate. In I John 4:18 we read, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”
Whenever Jesus encountered trials and temptations, he quoted Scripture to combat the attack. Below are just a few encouraging Scriptures and then a couple of suggested prayers to help you.

Scripture and Prayers to combat Fear

Matthew 10:31
New Living Translation (NLT)
31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Matthew 6:25
New Living Translation (NLT)
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Matthew 14:27
New Living Translation (NLT)
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![a]

Matthew 10:28
New Living Translation (NLT)
28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[a]
John 14 Jesus, the Way to the Father  1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
John 14:27
New Living Translation (NLT)
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Matthew 24:6
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic.
Matthew 17:7
New Living Translation (NLT)
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 28:20
New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 6:25-27
New Living Translation (NLT)
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Romans 8:38
New Living Translation (NLT)
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
2 Timothy 1:7
New Living Translation (NLT)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 4:18
The Message (MSG)
God's looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven. All praise to him, praise forever! Oh, yes!
Luke 12
New Living Translation (NLT) 22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. 32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Psalm 23:6
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Psalm 27:3
New Living Translation (NLT)
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
Proverbs 19:23
New Living Translation (NLT)
23 Fear of the Lord leads to life,
bringing security and protection from harm.
Isaiah 41:10
New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Prayers to renounce fear (from “Bondage Breaker” by Dr. Neil Anderson)
“Dear heavenly Father, I confess to You that I have listened to the devil’s roar and have allowed fear to master me. I have not always walked by faith in You but instead have focused on my feelings and circumstances. Thank You for forgiving me for my unbelief. Right now I renounce the spirit of fear and affirm the truth that You have not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. Lord, please reveal to my mind now all the fears that have been controlling me so I can renounce them and be free to walk by faith in You. I thank You for the freedom You give me to walk by faith and not by fear. In Jesus’ powerful name, I pray. Amen.”
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank You that You are trustworthy. I choose to believe You, even when my feelings and circumstances tell me to fear. You have told me not to fear, for You are with me; to not anxiously look about me, for You are my God. You will strengthen me, help me, and surely uphold me with Your righteous right hand. I pray this with faith in the name of Jesus my Master. Amen.”