Posts Tagged ‘fear’


Word:  Habakkuk 1:1-5 (abridged)(NLT)

This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
    But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
    but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
    Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
    I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
    who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
    and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
    so that justice has become perverted.

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.


One Pew Research study summarized its findings that over decades, five topics consistently increased newspaper sales in America:  war, weather, disaster, money, and crime.  What is certainly one common thread in these five topics—and there might be others—is that each of these topics often generates fear! War, disaster, and crime seem obvious, but think about the weather: tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and blizzards?  And what if the stock market crashes or our money runs out??

Even those who believe in the King of All Nations sometimes panic in the face of violence and destruction.  This ancient prophet expressed the existential fear that we all recognize, but he had the courage to raise the question to the King himself:  If you are in control, why are we surrounded by injustice and why does evil prevail?  Why are we afraid?

As is often the case, when we want to look behind the curtain and see what the big picture is, the King’s response is, “Well, I’d tell you but you wouldn’t understand if I did.”

So it all comes back—as it always has and always will—to trust.  How much do we trust the King of All Nations? Do we trust him to know what is going on?  Do we trust that He has enough power to really be in control?  Do we trust that He is good?  Do we trust that He cares what happens?

Fear is the immediate consequence of having no one in control, being at the mercy of chaos. Don’t vote for fear. Fear is only a question.  Trust the King of All Nations. That’s the only answer!

Prayer: Lord God, we stay glued to our TVs and the internet, looking for someone to trust, something to have confidence in, someone we can believe; we do this–and are still afraid. We as a nation are fearful because we no longer know, no longer trust that You are in control.  Give us trusting eyes, O God, to be able to see what you are doing in our own times. Then help us to know that it is You we are seeing. Amen

Read Full Post »

Boston Marathon bombingThis weekend at least 25 major marathons will be run across the United States. Some have funny names like “Hurt the Dirt” marathon in Rockford, Michigan, or “Jailbreak” marathon in Wautoma, Wisconsin. Other marathons remind of us terrible times: Gettysburg North-South Marathon or Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

On April 15, the Boston Marathon moved from being one of the most prestigious marathons to one of the most terrifying.  At 2:49pm, two bombs killed two women and a little boy and injured 260+ people—physically!  The bombings also wounded the souls of all of us!

Random acts of violence are among the most heinous because they almost always target people who woke up on any given morning, got dressed, brushed their teeth, kissed their loved ones goodbye, and walked out their doors into Normalcy—whatever that is.

They were not the President who is reminded of the target on his back on a daily basis by the team of Secret Service agents who surround him. They were not the CEO in some South American country who signed the check for Kidnapping insurance or rides in a bulletproof limousine. They threatened no one, they were just . . . you and me.

What makes the wounds of random violence penetrate to our souls—whether it is the work of organized terrorists or of a single mentally-ill person with a backseat full of guns—is fear!

Almost twelve years after 9/11, two million people each day empty their pockets and walk through metal detectors and are reminded of that day of terror. Richard Reid tries to detonate his shoe full of explosives, so now we take our shoes off to be screened. Our belts come off because of the underwear bomber in 2009. Our laptops come out because of the Lockerbie bombings in 1988.  You cannot enter any federal building without walking through a metal detector because of the Oklahoma City bombing.

In fact, just the potential threat against any event has meant screening and major security tactics at major league baseball games, music concerts, at museums, and certainly any political events.

Unless you are almost 60, you can’t remember when the president rode in an open limousine!

So in the Nashville Country Music Marathon, the police have announced  “the deployment of hundreds of law enforcement and security personnel” who will be “very visible” along the 26.2 mile route.  More elementary school teachers will have guns, more movie theaters will guard their rear doors.

More mothers will not let their kids play in the front yard. More kids will carry mobile phones, mostly because their parents want to know where they are. And more preachers will be watched by bodyguards while their congregants sing and pray.

Random violence—the fear of dying–makes us afraid! As a boy, I slept in an unlocked house just seven minutes from where I live today. Now we not only lock the house, but we also set the alarm. Our cars have alarms, our keys chains have panic buttons

—and still random violence can kill our children on the streets of Boston, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Aurora, and the list goes on much too long!

No amount of fear can protect you from deadly random violence.  Just like no amount of exercise or healthy eating can keep you from getting cancer or having a heart attack or getting hit by a bus!

Sure, we look both ways before we cross the street and we put on our seat belts in the car and we eat less red meat and  . . . .the list goes on, growing daily, of what we do to be safe and secure.

—and still we are afraid.  And still we are willing to spend more money and endure greater restriction in the hope of being safe and secure.

and still we are afraid of those who can kill us anyway!

Here’s the word from God today for you and me:

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.(Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT)

“Slaves to the fear of dying,” that’s the phrase that convicts me.

If you want security and safety so that you will never die and no one you love will ever die—then you will always be afraid! And you will still die.

If you want to live free from the slavery of the fear of dying, then you can have that freedom through the One who promised: “Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25-26).

Then you can run your race without fear.

Read Full Post »

Fear! Fear! Fear!

THE FISCAL CLIFF!!  SERIAL KILLERS!!  CRISIS!!  DOOMSDAY!!  KILLER WHALE!!  BEWARE!!  OMG!!  WAR ON MEN !!  SITUATION DIRE !! BRAIN DAMAGE !!  SAVE THE PLANET!!  And that is all off just one internet page of headlines for today!!  How much worse could it get?headlines2

If you haven’t seen the drama video from Belgium, please take less than two minutes to watch it!  (You can skip the advertisement at the beginning, if you want.)  The reason this is so funny is because we are bombarded with “drama” at every turn.

Why is “drama” the only way to get our attention?  The longer I think about this, the more answers I get—which probably means there are lots of right answers—and that it is . . . well . . . complicated.  I’ll share with you what I think.

  • We are addicted to conflict. You can take the sweetest Disney movie or Winnie the Pooh or Beatrice Potter stories and you will always find conflict.  We think in terms of contrasts, distinctions, and variances.  We need differences to distinguish one thing from the other.  We don’t know how to tell a story without conflict.
  • Schadenfreude! Such a great German word to describe one’s pleasure at someone else’s misfortune.  The definition sounds more malevolent than it usually is, but it does suggest our darker, selfish nature.  “Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to handle that person’s child!”” I’m glad I wasn’t on that plane.”  There is a subtle pleasure in the fact that the misfortune happened to someone else and not to me!
  • Vicarious experience of danger!  One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is in Clear and Present Danger (1994) when the American government representative’s convoy is attacked by a drug cartel’s army in the narrow streets of a poor South American city. The big black vehicles roaring through the streets with a large police escort look invincible, but all it takes is one bad guy disguised as a motorcycle patrolman to turn the scene into mayhem! I can’t imagine how diplomats could watch this scene; it would be my worst nightmare.
  • Drama motivates others to action!  Which gets you out of your chair, the “consequences of last year’s indecisive tax measures” or the looming “fiscal cliff?”  Just the more dramatic phrase suggests danger, death, destruction—which must be avoided at all cost!!  Drama motivates.
  • Fear may be our most compelling emotion!  Fear of loss, fear of death, fear of pain! Fear seems to be built into us physically and as with our other senses, we like to overstimulate, tintilate ourselves for our own pleasure.

As Christians we know we are engaged in a great spiritual drama! Good versus evil is everywhere around us—even within us! So how does a Christian respond to a world driven by drama and conflict, but of a completely different nature?

  • Christians do not need an addiction to conflict because we know the Great Conflict has already been decided.(Spoiler alert!)  Good (God) wins!  (Knowing how the conflict ends makes all the difference, doesn’t it!)
  • Christians do not need to calm themselves with shadenfreude because having their own salvation assured, they are free to focus on the ultimate good of all others.
  • Christians do not need to seek vicarious danger because every day in our real lives, we are watching for our real enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The intense fear of the lions in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) is heightened as they take on the even more dangerous metaphor for evil itself!
  • While some Christians continue to be motivated primarily by fear, our goal is to be motivated by the opposite of fear, which is love. John says, perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4:18)  Perhaps the test is to ask yourself whether you are motivated more by love or by fear—to do anything?

If you are one who writes or speaks or provokes others to think or to do, be careful about manipulating artificial conflict or dramatic words to create fear. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Scripture is full of God’s messengers saying, “Be strong and courageous, and do not be afraid!”  Fear is not a harmless emotion.

Jesus said,Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God . .  .” (Matthew 10:28).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: