Christianity

Fear wears a mask named Responsible

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In the few days since the fire (click here to read about it) I have noticed signs of trauma.  It happens mostly at night.  As I snuggle down into my pillows and feel the normally comforting warmth of my blankets I get edgy.  My ears are heightened to sounds around me and I find myself opening my eyes to glance out the window.

I’ll hear an animal scurry or a limb crack in the woods but something tells me, “It’s a fire!”  What was that?  A pop, a rumble?  Are the trees glowing?  My heart starts racing and I want to get out of bed to look.  I quickly recognize my anxiety is irrational.  It’s very unlikely another one of my neighbor’s houses will explode in a roaring inferno.  And, yet, I feel it…

Fear.

The type of fear I felt the day of the fire spurred responsible action.  It caused a respect for the danger and potential reality of a fire.  As a result our family took action steps to be as prepared as possible in the case of a house fire. (Click here for a safety checklist.) But this, this feeling I’m having at night, is not the same kind of fear.  It doesn’t cause responsible action it causes worry and sleeplessness.  This type of fear sneaks in like a villain.  He masquerades as Responsibility.  Like a bad insurance policy he promises security but demands a hefty payment and never delivers.  He’s really a thief.

He steals peace and leaves worry.  He steals sleep and leaves weariness.  He steals trust leaving a sense that my life is all dependent on me.

Fortunately, I’d seen this villain before so I recognized him quickly.  And did what you do with a thief who comes in lies and betrays you and tries to steal your precious possessions.  I kicked him out.

Hope, peace and trust in God are some of my most valuable possessions.  An abundant life does not exist without them.  I can not sit passively allowing any type of thinking displace them.  I cannot deny I experienced trauma and that it’s normal to experience triggers that reactivate the feelings of a trauma.  But I won’t allow that to be an excuse to partner with the villain who wants me to think that worry, heightened intensity (aka jumpiness), and anxiety are going to protect me and my family from fire – or any other threat for that matter.

Intimacy with the God who loves perfectly allows a trust that imprisons the villain fear.  The peace that follows isn’t rational.  It transcends understanding.

Fear is a conniving little snake.  He’s not your friend or protector. Has he snuck in on you?  Sometimes we don’t recognize that fear has trespassed until we notice the shortage of what he’s stolen.  Here are just a few examples.

Fear of the future steals our hope.
Fear of the unknown steals our peace.
Fear of rejection steals our relationships.
Fear of failure steals our success.

Do you lack hope in any area of your life?
Do you lack peace?
Do you lack depth and satisfaction in your relationships?
Do you lack momentum towards your destiny?

Perhaps there’s fear there.

Last night I slept without one worrisome thought.  How did I kick out the thief?  I remembered who my God was.  He never promised me a life without trouble but he did promise me a life of peace.  I began to thank him for all he is and all he’s done in my life.  I made a conscious choice to think about those things.  And without another thought fear was gone.

Do you want freedom?  Freedom from fear that causes worry, anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, performance driven, controlling behaviors is available through a relationship with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Andthe God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (emphasis mine)

Do you believe you know at least one person who needs freedom from fear?  Would you share this on your Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site?  Recognizing how fear works could be all someone needs to gain back what’s been stolen from them.

Be a herald!  Together we can make a difference!

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The problem with Christians today (and ever since Constantine)

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Christians today continue to sell Jesus as the answer to life’s problems.  But what many provide their convert is the way to do church losing the heart of Jesus and the freedom of His Kingdom.  This method of “evangelism” has become ineffective at impacting our culture where Christianity no longer has the largest influence.  Frankly, this was never good form.

For decades, Westernized Christianity ruled American culture through social pressure.  Divorce was forbidden, and many steered away from breaking the legal contract, yet fear of being shunned did nothing to bring wholeness and joy to marriage.  Stigmas that followed the promiscuous youth along with fear of pregnancy (pre free contraception and readily available abortion) was effective to curb the overt actions of some but did nothing to create purity in a generation.

Today, non-traditional ideas and lifestyles tout new social pressure.  Christian expressions of opposition to these ideas are taboo and in some settings literally outlawed.  Christianity was wrong to use it’s popularity as a method of conversion and control.  Similarly, Constantine legalizing Christianity, making it the religion of the state, was ineffective at creating a society of true converts in the fourth century .  Heresy was intolerable. Becoming a Christian was the way not to be killed or imprisoned or a new way to climb the Roman Empire ladder. Sadly, not much has changed in the hearts of mankind.  Church going is often used as a way to keep parents or a spouse happy, to draw customers to a new business or to help fund a political campaign. Church attendance may swell but it is not the “building up” of the church written about in the Bible.

Modern Christians need to let go of the illusion that conformity is indicative of a heart that has met Jesus. The tree of life is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  These were two separate trees in the garden of Eden.  And the fruit of knowing right and wrong is not the same as the fruit of the spirit of the tree of life.

Christians need to stop pressuring people to agree with truthful statements and start introducing people to Truth.  Rules, regulations and behavior modification is more manageable and less messy than a relationship with a loving, untamed, passionate God.  But transformation, both individual and cultural, will only come with authentic spiritual relationship with the Creator.

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Do you feel Christians need to change their approach to better represent Christ?

Do you want others to know the Truth,  Jesus Christ, and not just learn how to go to church and “act right?”

If so – would you share this article on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media?  Be a herald and spread the word.  Together we can make a difference.

Is there a God?

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I grew up in religious home.  I went to Catholic school for nearly every grade level including college.  And yet I didn’t believe in God.  I have limited memories of my childhood but when I was young I did adopt the faith of my mother.  I remember walking arm in arm with her through the woods of Calaveras Big Trees talking with her about Jesus.  But that didn’t “stick.”  I am not sure when it happened. I suppose it was about the time normal teenage angst begins.  When developmentally we separate from the beliefs of our parents and seek to discover our own convictions. I decided I didn’t believe there was a God.  Religion was dumb and going to church was a pointless waste of time. Because I still lived under my parents roof I was required to continue attending church services with them despite my vocal disdain for such practices.

Hindsight being what it is I think I always believed there was a God.  But I was so angry about life, and there was so much I didn’t understand, that I turned into an antagonist and later a self proclaimed atheist.  When the rest of the “Religion” class in high school was quietly watching the minutes tick by I would argue with the Priest about the return of Christ.  I wrote papers about atheism and how we just need to believe in ourselves.  Oh, that poor teacher.  But he was wise in his feedback – never giving me the fight I was looking for but praising my passion and exploration.

Later I went off to college and  met a young man I thought had hung the moon.  On several occasions when we would have deep conversations about  the world and life he would declare with certainty that there was a God and that he was going to hell.  Despite my supposed disbelief in God this statement bothered me tremendously.  If I didn’t really believe there was a God and afterlife what would it matter if he thought he would go there?

After taking me on a date one night we laid the seats back in his car and gazed up at the stars through his moonroof.  We talked about aliens.  Interesting date, I know, but we had just come from seeing a movie, “based on actual events,” about a guy who got abducted by aliens.  The conversation ended with me conceding that there could be aliens.  And he questioned if I could believe there might be aliens why couldn’t I believe there might be a God.  Logical or not, it made me think.  Why didn’t I believe in God?  What if He did exist?

It was in my college Anatomy and Physiology class that I first began to believe that God existed.  It was the day we studied the beginning stages of the reproductive process or how a baby is made.  As I looked at the slides and heard the descriptions I sat amazed.  I thought it was simple: have sex, sperm and egg meet, 9 months later a baby is born.  But on a cellular level thousands of factors must align. The maturity of the egg and sperm, the body’s pH, the timing of the meet up.  Then once joined they create a single cell that divides and grows. One cell becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes eight and so on. By the fifth or sixth day of this process the one cell has become a 64 cell unit called a blastocyst.  Inside there are undifferentiated cells, you may have heard of them called embryonic stem cells, anyway, these cells which divided from the ONE cell already know what they are to become; a brain cell, a muscle, an eye, a heart.  One sperm with 23 chromosomes and one egg with 23 chromosomes join making a perfect cell of 46.  And from that comes a fully grown baby!  It’s utterly amazing.  I sat in the class floored by the details of design and in that moment resolved this doesn’t all happen by accident.  I began to believe in a Creator.

Once I considered there was Intelligent Design I wanted to know more.  I considered myself a rational and logical person and I truly wanted to understand.  I started looking for answers and eventually attended a church service with a girlfriend from school.  There I heard something my mind needed to hear.  The preacher was talking about Creation and he said, “You want to believe in evolution, ok.  You want to believe in the Big Bang Theory, fine.  But you must remember one thing:  In the beginning God…”  And something clicked.  I didn’t have to know everything and have it all figured out.  I didn’t need to have all the answers.  I just needed to know that in the beginning God.  Before anything else was God was. I could figure the rest out later.

It didn’t all make sense to me.  It would be a few months before I knew about the Love of God and what Jesus did for me.  But from that moment on I couldn’t get away from one fact and He hasn’t left me since.

In the beginning God… Genesis 1:1

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