The Lightning and the Valley of the Shadow of Death…

I recently came across the story of Major Walter Summerford who was a British officer in the early 1900’s and he fought in World War I. While galloping through a field in Belgium he was struck by lightening. One would think that one lightening strike would be more than enough for one lift time, and for the most part you would be right. But in the case of Major Walter Summerford, this was only his first encounter of the mass voltage from the sky.

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Major Walter Summerford



After Walter’s initial injury sustained from the lightning blast, he was forced to retire early because for a time he was paralyzed from the waist down. He relocated to Vancouver Canada where he began to enjoy early retirement with outdoor activities such as fishing. On one such day in 1924, he took fishing pole and bait in hand and set off towards his favorite fishing hole. He perched (no pun intended) himself under a tree and began fishing…unfortunately the tree that he had decided to sit under destined for…yes, you guessed it, a lightening strike. Major Walter Summerford was struck by lightening once again. Initially Major Summerford was paralyzed on one side of his body, but remarkably, after two years of healing he recovered from his injuries.

One would think that being struck, not once, but twice by lightning it could never happen again, but the remarkable thing is it did. Major Summerford was walking one evening in town when another bolt of lightning crashed from the heavens and, defying the odds, found its mark on the body of poor Major Walter Summerford. This time the lightning strike proved lethal and Major Summerford eventually succumbed to his injuries.

One would think that this is the end of the story, but unfortunately it is not.
The body of Major Walter Summerford was then interned at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. For four years his body was undisturbed until the spring of 1936 when his gravestone was once again struck by lightning. How could one be so unlucky some might ask.

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I find this story quite fascinating. We read of people and the trials that they have gone through and we wonder how they could ever overcome these difficulties. Some of us reading this right now have gone through or are currently going through difficulties and there are moments when we wonder if we will survive this (whatever ‘this’ is).

Our journey through the valley of the shadow of death isn’t always death itself. Sometimes it’s financial concerns. Other times it’s stress at work, or difficult coworkers, or problems with your children. We all find ourselves here in this valley. It’s almost as if we’ve been struck by lightning again and again and we wonder “Lord, why?” and then wonder if it could get any worse…and sometimes it does.

I know at this point it may not sound very encouraging, but bear with me.
We all go through the valley of the shadow of death.
We all experience terrible, horrible, no good very bad days.
We all wonder in times of great trial if God is really there with us, or if we can possibly handle another strike of lightning.

I am here to tell you that we can all make it through these dark times.
You aren’t alone in this journey.
You never were.
It may feel as if you have been, but you’re not alone.

God promised Moses and the Israelites that He would be with them,
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.
They had been through some very difficult things, many of the younger generations could only remember being slaves in Egypt. They had lived in this valley of the shadow of death all their lives.

Imagine experiencing your terrible, horrible, no good very bad day – EVERY DAY?!

The same God who promised that His presence would go with the Israelites also promises to go with us, and even in our times of trial He will provide us with the rest that we so desperately need.

How About You?
Do you feel as unlucky as Major Walter Summerford?
Does it feel like you’ve been kicked while you have been down?
I know at times it doesn’t seem fair and it is easy to become bitter and angry at your life’s circumstance, but remember that God is very near and He will never leave you or forsake you.

Prayer:
Lord, help me today in my stress and in my trials.
You know my breaking point, and my struggles.
Remind me when I feel all alone in this fight that I am not alone.
Cleanse my heart from all bitterness and unrighteous anger.
Guide me in my dark valley of the shadow of death and restore my soul.
In your name I pray these things.
Amen.

Faith Lessons From The Ocean – Lesson #1 “The Trench Of Fear”

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” -Psalm 56:3

They say that you should never underestimate the power of the ocean.
It can be a dangerous place, and many a person has been lost beneath its currents and waves.

With that thought in mind, for the next few installments of Pastorsponderings.org, I want to explore what I want to call ‘Faith Lessons From The Ocean’, and how it might apply to our daily living:

Lesson #1 ‘The Trench of Fear’
I recall, on numerous occasions being a hapless victim of its tides.
I have never drowned, mind you, but I have faced some scary moments while within the ocean’s grasp. One such day occurred when I was a child. I remember it vividly. I was wading out into the surf, feeling the salty sting on my eyes and lips. I had not gone out very far when all of a sudden I found myself in deeper waters where I could not reach the bottom. The normal ocean floor shelf was further out, but I had stepped into a sand pit that was much deeper than the surrounding area. I momentarily panicked, I recall that my head went under the ebbing waves, and I choked on some of its spray.

For a brief moment, dread filled me and I was frozen in fear. This probably only lasted a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity had gone. I was a helpless victim and no matter how hard I tried, I was caught in the rip current of this small ocean trench.

When I came to my senses and pushed my panic down, I remembered the pull and push of the ebb and flow of the ocean waves and so on the next in coming wave, I stretched out my arms and paddled like I have never paddled before. I rode the wave out of my trench of fear…and I was finally free!

Our faith journey can be a lot like that trench of fear.
We will be cruising right along, enjoying life and riding the waves of success, then suddenly we find ourselves below the waves…and panic sets in.
In a sudden crisis, we might quickly forget God’s promises to us.
We might forget that He promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
We might forget that God always keeps His promises to us.

So we might be traveling in life, and all of a suddenly we come up against an obstacle that we feel has no bottom and we are drowning beneath its weight. Have you been there? Have you felt the powerful pull from the riptide? Have you lost your firm footing and have been forced to tread water? Perhaps you are at the point of sheer panic, because we do not know what will happen next when another large wave of life spills over you.
-Breathe.
You aren’t alone.
Don’t Panic.
This trench may seem to be your doom, but you will survive…you were made for more than this, and God is with you…trust Him!

Fear can be debilitating.
It can hold us captive and in chains.
Fear will lie to you, and reveal to you all of your weaknesses and insecurities. It will make you think that you can’t go on and that you are all alone in your struggles.
Fear is also tool of the Father of lies…and he loves it when we are held paralyzed in its awful grasp.

Fear is a Liar Music Video

Have you been to this place?
It’s a cold, desolate wasteland where hopelessness lives and is neighbor to unfulfilled dreams.

Don’t live there.
Don’t waste your time.
The trench of fear holds many souls captive…don’t let it hold you!

Where are the trenches located in your life?
What causes you dread and holds you captive?
Perhaps it is time to cry out to the Father.
He hears us, and He will not let your foot slip, even if you find yourself treading water from time to time amidst waves that seem determined to do you in. You will survive, and He will provide you the path by which you can thrive.

“When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down.” -Psalm 94:19

Learning To Trust Again…

Perhaps you’ve been betrayed by those you trusted or called ‘friend’ or ‘family’.
Maybe you entrusted someone with personal information only a few would know, thinking that they would always keep it private…and they turned around and spoke ill of you while spilling your secrets to the world.  trust

They say that trust is earned, and that having true allies is often harder to maintain.
Friends, do you struggle with trust issues?
Do you have close confidants who not only listen to you, but tell it like it is?

blueprintMany times we take this imperfect blueprint of friendship, with all of its flaws, lies, broken trusts, and betrayals and we transpose it onto what we think we know about God.  We think that either God doesn’t listen to us, or perhaps He just doesn’t care that much for us.   We make assumptions that aren’t based upon God at all, but rather on the experiences of our world and those in it.  The truth is that God isn’t from this world, He is out of it, and as a matter of fact, He created this world.  Going even further, God ACTUALLY walked with Adam and Eve at the beginning of all things just to fellowship with them.  He truly cared about them.

Along the way, as you might already know the story, Adam and Eve disobeyed God…and broke His heart.   They were kicked out the garden, and you’d think that He would start to have trust issues with His creation, but instead He made covenant after covenant with the Adam and Eve’s ancestors.  He never stopped trusting and loving them.  As a matter of fact, His trust and love for us went so far as to send His One and Only Son – Jesus into the world to make things right for us…to set the story straight.  He never gave up on us…so much so that Jesus died in our place on the cross.
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I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I do know that God wants to tear down the imperfect blueprint that you might have about Him.  He won’t let go of you, and He has never stopped loving you.  The very, very big God of the Universe, comes down to your level and says “Here I am…and I’m not going anywhere because I love you!”  Perhaps you are very burdened today by the weight of so many hurts and problems.  Maybe it’s time to trust again…no, I don’t mean trusting others just yet, I mean start by trusting God to be there for you.  From this place of trust, healing can begin and He will restore your life and heal your broken heart.  (Psalm 147:3)

Prayer: 
Lord, I don’t know how to trust anymore.
I have been hurt by so many things in life and I feel helpless in this mess.
Thank you for loving me, even when I don’t love myself.  Help me to trust You.  I give you my hurts and my burdens…Lord, just be there for me…I want to trust again.  In Your name -Amen.

Something more for you to ponder today.
God Bless you!

Walking at Midnight on the path of restlessness.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I have another confession to make – I am restless…like pit of my stomach-aching restlessness.  Some days I can put my finger on it, while other days it is as elusive as an honest thief.  I am usually successful at pushing it back down, repacking that box that it lives in and stowing it away in that shadowy corner that I seldom travel to.  Still, I know it’s there…and it weighs on me as if an elephant had decided to perch its rotund bottom on my chest.

I wonder if you feel this way sometimes?
Do you have to push it back down as well?
Do you have to re-tape that worn-out box and pretend that dark corner doesn’t even exist?  Does it keep you up at night – blinking at the ceiling fan, counting the rotation of its blades as shadows dance off reflections of streetlights lit only for 3rd shift workers and insomniacs out for a stroll?  I repress the urge to join them, to open the front door and walk barefooted down the now cooled, uneven sidewalks as I imagine myself trying to avoid the spiny round pods that fall haphazardly from the large gum tree in our front yard.   I have stepped on these awful spiky seeds a time or two while walking barefoot down our path and even in the cool darkness of the night thoughts of the surprise pain causes me to recoil my feet from the lower spaces of my bed.

I wonder if David ever felt this way?  The pre-murder and adulterous David…the one that tended sheep and slew predators to the flock.  I wonder if he ever felt restless in his heart?  I am sure he did when, later he was being pursued by jealous King Saul and his men.  As David hid from cave to cave and village to village, I imagine him laying down on an uncomfortable uneven floor hoping to rest his weary head.  I can picture his deep sadness as he yearned for his best friend Jonathan.  Yet David trusted in God…but I would venture a guess that there were moments in which he was restless and he too had to push it back down and re-tape his box.

It is said that there is a season for everything…and yet Jesus told the people of his day not to worry about anything, yet I can’t help but find myself in the season of worry from time to time.  Doe that mean that I am not heeding His words?  That, despite my best efforts, I am not trusting in Him?  Perhaps you have thought this also> I worry, but Jesus said not to, and here I am still worrying.<  What do we do with these seasons?  How do we find the glimmers and glints of hope in the mess of our minds?  Sometimes we do believe the lie.  What lie you ask?  The lie that Jesus wasn’t really talking to us when He said those things, that it was just for the disciples and people around Him right then and there… The lie that we are broken people beyond fixing, and that the restlessness that we feel in the pits of our stomachs and the weight of our hearts is what we deserve for being fallen, sinful people.

Don’t live there.
Don’t wallow in that muck and believe that damning lie.
The son who turned his back on his father and spent his entire inheritance on partying, prostitutes and comfort found himself feeding muddy, fetid pigs.  Day in and day out he was covered in mud and pig excrement.  He definitely smelled as bad as they did.  He had lost everything – squandered a small fortune on foolish, regrettable things, and the stink of his life went much deeper than clothes and skin.  He lived there.  He wallowed there.  That pen of stench became his home for a period of time, until he came to senses.  As Jesus told this story of prodigal son, I imagine some who were listening felt that he was telling their story.  The prodigal son came to his senses, got up and devised a plan to return to his father.  He formulated a plan in his mind, he believed he would be unwelcome to return as a son, but maybe, just maybe his father would let him return as a servant.  Can you imagine that restless journey home; The endless loop of things he would finally say to his father in order to stave off the reprisals and chastisements?  As each dusty step led him closer and closer to the home he once knew, thoughts of doubt and fear must have crept in.  “Master, just let me work for you.” (For surely he would never be worthy to call him father after what he did).

And when this beaten-by-life man, who had squandered everything and had hit absolute rock-bottom crested that last hill, and his home was in view…he saw someone running towards him.  Perhaps it was a servant instructed to chase him off.  Perhaps it was a warning not to come any closer…he would have deserved such a welcome.  Instead, it wasn’t any of those things…it was his father that he had wished were dead, running to embrace the son he thought he had lost.

Don’t live in the home of restlessness.
Don’t believe the lie of shame and guilt.
Be forgiven, let your Father embrace you and welcome you home…and when you are finally hope, re-tape that box and then throw it away.

The prodigal son is me.
The prodigal son is you.
But once we have been embraced,
once we have witness our Father running to us,
Once we have been forgiven and returned to our home (where we belong)
don’t even entertain the lie or the box any longer.

But sometimes…we still walk at midnight, say hello, I’ll be waving.

Something more to ponder today.

Sunday Help: Video Illustrations

You know that last minute rush to find just the right video to drive home your point, and no matter what you do it seems that video is illusive and hard to find?  Today, let me help you with some videos I have found and have used in my sermons.  Please note that the use of videos should be a tool and not main focus of your sermon preparation.  Video illustrations can help bring the visual learner along with you and keep your audience attentive.

Sermon Nuggets (Video Illustrations):

1>  Cristiano Ronaldo In Disguise: 

Scripture:  1 Samuel 3:1-10, John 10:27
Main Idea:  Ronaldo is one of the best soccer (football) players in the world.  He went undercover in the streets of Spain and no one recognized him wearing the beard and sunglasses.  Similarly, in the midst of the noise of the world around us and all of life’s distractions, I wonder if we would recognize God?  Would we recognize His voice in the middle of our noisy day?  What distractions get in the way that prevent us from hearing or seeing evidence of God in our lives and in the world around us?

2> Hearing for the first time:  

Scripture:  John 10:27, Romans 10:17, John 8:47, Luke 11:28
Main Idea:  Some in our world have never heard about or from God.  As ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20) we are called to proclaim His name.  Sometimes the truth of the gospel is like this little boy who finally hears his mother’s voice for the first time.  God can do miracles in the lives of people and when His voice is heard, lives are changed!

3> Seeing God’s Glory and our response:

Scripture:  Isaiah 6:1:8
Main Idea:  These special glasses allow colorblind people to see in the full spectrum of color.  Can you imagine the Theophany that Isaiah experienced in heaven?  How his eyes must have been opened and it was like seeing everything for the first time.  God wants to do that with all of us.  He is calling us to go into various places of the world, but first we need to truly see for the first time!

4> Sin & Redemption: 

Scripture:  John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20
Main Idea:  Nothing we do in and of ourselves will save us from sin.  It is within us, God’s saving love can and will rescue us if we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His blood covers our sin and restores us.

5> Prayer & Praying

Scripture:  Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 11:24, Matthew 6:6, Matthew 6:9-13
Main Idea:  We have these ideas about God and how he answers prayers or how WE think He should answer prayer, but does He really work like that?  Prayer doesn’t always produce the answers we are looking and how we come before Him in prayer matters.

These are just 5 Sermon nugget illustrations.
I know that there are much more, and I will post more later…how about you?  What are some video illustrations that you have used that you seem to resonate with your audience?  Please share them with us in the comment section below.

More to ponder….

Dear Salvation Army – Letters From Prison

Life in The Salvation Army is always unique and eventful.  There is something new each day, and these “somethings” can be good, and they can also be not so good.  This ministry and mission that we engage in here in our Army is truly frontlines and gap ministries.  It is with this “gap” ministry in mind that I tell you this story:

I had been feeling very discouraged in serving in The Salvation Army recently.
The busyness of this appointment had begun to frustrate me – far too many reports to complete, too much desk work and not enough human contact in mission.  I had been fighting with policy, rules, regulations…all of the tedious hoops we all have to jump through as Officers in a very far-reaching Army.  Have you ever been there?  Feeling bogged down by stuff and instead of pursuing mission you find yourself pushing paperwork?  That’s where I was when something connected and resonated in me through our soup kitchen and social services…

Our soup kitchen is a thoroughfare to many who are in need, some by choice, others by crisis – all are looking to fill their bellies while sipping on cups of hot coffee and sharing in conversation.  This is a safe haven to a large number who are either living on the street, crisis poverty or habitual poverty.  All are welcomed here, and in a very practical sense, the gap is tended by stalwart soldiers and friends of this army.

I recently received a letter in the mail that was not an ordinary letter.  On the front of the envelop, in bright crimson stamped lettering it read: “Inmate Mail”.  I was intrigued, what could it be about?  So I carefully tore the envelop open and inside I found a hand-written note on a blue lined page.  This individual, now inmate, wrote her letter addressed to: prisonDear Salvation Army” (How fitting I thought).   First she expressed deep gratitude for us being there for her even when she was hurting herself with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.  She was a meth addict and because of her addiction she committed some crimes and ended up being incarcerated.  She continued to describe her dire situation of homelessness and utter hopelessness.  She was more imprisoned outside on her own then she is now.  Her letter ended with these words:  “Because of your soup kitchen, food pantry and your clothing donations, I was able to survive.  Your church gave me life everyday – Thank you for showing me, loving me, and sharing with me the love of Jesus Christ.
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My Dear Salvation Army, this is what our existence is about!  This is who we are!  We must mind the gap!  We must tend the very gates of Hell in order to pull hopeless people like this one from total self-destruction.  We cannot sit by and watch when no one else will help.  Action must be taken daily!  Sometimes we might even feel as if what we do has no effect in our community, and then letters like this appear at our doorsteps.  If I can be honest with you, I have felt defeated many times in my attempts to reach people for Christ.  I have felt the sting of rejection as the gospel has been presented.  I have heard the laughs and the words of mockery.  Perhaps, like me, you needed some reassurances that what we do still matters…IT DOES!
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ONWARD:
Let me, for what it’s worth, offer these words of encouragement and direction:
-Keep Fighting the good fight!
-Do not give up on doing these good works for those you serve!
-This movement and mission IS making a difference!
-Even though you may not always see it, God sees your faithfulness and you must find your reward first in HIM.
-Do everything without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:14a) – (I am preaching to myself first and foremost)
-Every effort for service should be done with love, kindness and grace – you never know whose life you will reach, so be consistent and faithful to God in your service!
hope3
The Salvation Army doesn’t exist for the purpose of maintain status quo and pushing paperwork – it exists so that people like this inmate who wrote this letter might find Christ.  This Salvation Army exists to be a lighthouse to a turbulent sea full of lost people struggling to get to shore.  This Army exists so that homeless people and pariahs in society might also have a chance to meet their Savior.  The words of General John Gowens still ring in my head when he said,  “Mind the Gap!”   We must still call others to mind this gap…and we must be vigilant in our mission as the Lighthouse shining out into the waters of desperation, depression, addictions, abject poverty and all the other ‘gaps’ that exist that would claim all who fall into them.

Something more for our Army to Ponder today!
To God be the glory!

*Disclaimer: The opinions and thoughts expressed here are the opinions of the writer of pastorsponderings and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and thoughts of the Salvation Army, reader discretion is advised.*

Day 12 – The Burdens Of Others

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...”
Ephesians 6:2

We live in a very egocentric culture today.  A lot of the time our culture operates from an individualistic  perspective.  For example many ask these types of questions frequently: How do I see myself?  Where do I fit in?  What makes ME Happy?  Will this change affect ME?  And the truth is our culture is ruled by how “I” feel.  This can spiral into a very self-indulged, selfish worldview where one throws a fit if one does not get their own way and they simply cannot be burdened by the needs of others.  others

Paul reminds us and the early Church that the needs and burdens of others are to be shared.  This is certainly counter-cultural to what society teaches us.  But even the ancient world struggled with self-importance and individuality.  Do you recall the parable of the good Samaritan?  There was a Priest who came by, saw the beaten and bloody man and walked on the other side of the road.  Then there was a Levite who did the same thing.  Both were too consumed with their own needs and busy schedules to stop and tend to this injured man (who was of their culture and race).  Finally the Samaritan man passed by, saw this man’s needs and tended to them.

Our Busyness
wowIt would be easy to say that we would respond like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ story, but is that really true sometimes?  When we have deadlines to meet, appointments to keep, miles of road to drive to get to those “responsibilities” – would we stop what we were doing to lend a helping hand?  How important are the burdens of those around us?  Can we even see past the issues that we face in order to see the needs of others?  It is far easier to put our noses back into our busyness, say “Oh I’m way too busy”, and never look around us.  It is far easier to think “I’ll just let someone else take care of that person’s needs”…but what if God holds us accountable for those moments that we never cared or simply passed that responsibility onto “someone else”?  Would that change how we look at others?  What if God placed those burdens of others in our path so that we could help, but we didn’t lift a finger…could we really be called Christ-followers then?  “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink…” Matthew 25:42.

Jesus even prayed for His disciples that they would be one – united in effort and mission.
I believe the message is so much stronger when we share each other’s burdens and stand united together in love.  So today, here’s a challenge for you: do one thing that makes you go out of your way for someone in need.  It might be something small like buying someone a cup of coffee, or helping a person load their groceries into their car, or offer a meal to someone who appears in need of food.  Don’t judge or second guess their intentions, just give.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see others today.  Despite my busy schedule, I am called to be your hands and feet – show me what that looks like.  Forgive me when I have been the Priest or the Levite and walked passed someone in need.  Help me to serve with and not to seek out my own self-importance.  Lead me Lord today in this.  -Amen.
ponderings

International Day of the Girl…So Far To Go…

Today is an important day!!
Perhaps you didn’t know it was today…perhaps you didn’t really even care.

But…
There is a movement out there that I believe we should all be a part of…it is the movement to ensure all girls around the world have access to education and employment!  That girls from whatever corner of the earth is treated with the same equality that boys her age receive.  This movement must grow and enter every corner of the world.  We must push this movement and ensure that regardless of race, ideology and culture  ALL girls & women are treated with equality, freedom and fairness.

This is not the case in many places of our world.  girl2
Almost all religions are guilty of suppressing female – some are still in the ideological dark ages where women are treated as property.  This cannot continue!  We must fight against such ideologies with education and compassion!  We must stand up for those girls in our world who still have no voice in their culture.   If we truly believe that all people matter, and all are equal – we cannot rest until all girls have the freedom to grow up to be whatever they want to be and are not restrained by archaic religious practices and teachings bent of controlling those they teach.

I have a daughter, she is the light of my life, and she has access to education – and I hope, with her parent’s help, we will give her every opportunity to succeed in life and she can aspire to be whoever she wants to be…but I also know that there are millions of girls like my daughter out there in the world today who will never have these same opportunities that she has.  And these girls will have these amazing dreams to be and do something, but the society that they live in will prohibit their dreams and limit their access to the resources they will need to succeed.

girl3I am just one father, one parent – but I stand with this International Day of Girls because I know that we can make a difference for ALL.  It may take years, but we mustn’t give up.  We mustn’t quit on those who are currently voiceless and without choices in life.

I believe in a God who created both Male and Females to live equally together in this world.  I believe we must empower this generation of girls to dream big and live it out until those dreams become a reality.  I also believe that if we work together, and if we persevere, we will better the lives of girls all around the world!

Let’s turn dreams into realities!
Something more to ponder today!

More reading on this topic check out these links:
How are you making a difference?
Day of the Girl – US
International Day of the Girl – U.N.
Fighting Human Trafficking -SA

Imprisoned By Fear?

There is all sorts of types of fear.
Fear that propels you into action.
Fear that keeps those you love safe.
Fear that weighs the outcomes of decisions yet to be made.
Irrational Fear
Phobias…

When we say the word “fear” sometimes it evokes different interpretations and understandings of this little four letter word.  Some see it as a challenge, while others dread.

Fear, when used  right can be helpful, but when it is not it can imprison, immobilize and prevent all forms of progress in life.

Our Faith Walk:
The Apostle Paul, after taking those first step in following Christ, post his roadside theophany,  could have fear what others thought of him.  He could have been held captive by fear following the first time he was thrown in prison or flogged for his outspoken faith…but he didn’t.  He rejoiced while in prison.  He and Silas sang songs well into the night.  Although Paul was imprisoned, he certainly wasn’t imprisoned by fear.

How about us?
How is our faith walk?
Do we find ourselves shouting “Amen” during Sunday church service, meanwhile on Monday at work we whisper to a quivering fearful heart?  Does fear hold us back?  Are we afraid of how others might perceive us if we professed our faith out loud?  What about our attitudes and intentions toward others?  Isn’t it harder to remove self from situations than it is to be selfish?  So it is with overcoming fear and replacing it with faith.  It is not that the fear is removed completely, no, instead we learn to use that fear to our advantage.  We recognize when that fear is rising in us and we must consciously decide to step out in faith…or leap.  Harnessing fear places us “out on that limb”.  We say, yes, I am afraid, but I will trust in God to lead me and direct me.  I do not know where this path will lead me, but I will follow the Lord…I will put my trust in Him.

…“I will proclaim Your name to My brothers; I will sing Your praises in the congregation.”13And again: “I will put My trust in Him. Hebrews 2:12-13

Make this your prayer today:
Lord, where you lead me I will follow.
I am afraid, I admit that…but I will not run from
your calling on my life.
I want to live for you in every moment of today.
Lord, take this fear of mine and use it
motivate me into action.
Let me love those around me.
I will become less and you, dear Lord become more.
I struggle with trusting you with all there is of me,
but I acknowledge this and I ask you to remind me of your presence with me
today.
Grant me your boldness, your courage, and your love
as I walk this path that I cannot see.
Lead me Lord.
-Amen.

No Longer Slaves

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