fear not

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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How many times as children during an electrical storm have we run to hide in a room without windows or pulled bed covers up over our heads?  We felt we were safe because we could not see the lightning flashing outside.  And then, when the thunder cracked in the heavens, we plugged our ears with little fingers.

As an adult I thoroughly enjoy an electrical storm, smelling the air, feeling the energy in my body, hearing the claps of thunder and seeing the spectacular display of lightning in the skies.  I no longer hide as I did as a child, but that doesn’t mean I will stand outside in an electrical storm under a tall tree, or on a golf course with putter in hand, or on the water in a boat.  Why?  Because I know today not to tempt the power of nature and I don’t believe God protects foolish men on golf courses or fishers on the lake.

But soon a fierce storm came up.  High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.  The disciples woke him up, shouting,  “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”  Mark 4:37-38

Naturally, the disciples feared for their lives.  This body of water on which they were being tossed about furiously was not some little backyard pond.  But, instead of taking measures to save themselves by bailing water out of the boat, they awakened the sleeping Jesus and questioned his concern for them.  Don’t you think in that situation, one would awaken Jesus and throw a bailing bucket to him yelling,  “Get ready to jump, can you swim?”  How many times in my life have I confronted God, “Don’t you care about me?  Why are you allowing this to happen?”

The passage from Mark goes on to say that Jesus woke up, calmed the waters and told the wind to be still.  In the same manner when I begin to panic, God says to me, “Relax, son.  Be cool.  I’ve got this under control.”

“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalms 34:4

Seeking the Lord in times of turmoil and surrendering the outcome to his mercy and grace is easy.  In the storms of life I usually have no other options and the resulting relief is welcome.  Conversely, seeking the Lord when life is good, the skies are sunny, and I’m enjoying a great day is a challenge.  I’ve retrieved my white flag of surrender, the crisis is over, and I am once again doing the driving.  “OK, Lord, thanks for the help, but I’ll take it from here.”  It would be wonderful if I could surrender my will and my life just one time and be done.  But my life simply does not work that way.  I am still a work in process and apparently have many future lessons to learn.

This physical existence which we experience gives no guarantees to our survival.  Car wrecks, disease and illness, crazy shooters at our local WalMart – we are not assured that tonight we will return home safely to loved ones.  But, it’s always been that way.  Rocko, the cave man, never knew whom in his neighborhood had a bigger, more deadly club.  The Jews, during Jesus’ time were at the mercy of the Roman conquerors and the religious hierarchy.  Jesus was not the only one crucified.  History tells us that thousands were hung on a cross during the rule of the Roman Empire.

Rational fear in the temporal world is probably a good thing.  It keeps me alive and out of harm’s way.  I have learned not to run around my neighborhood looking for a hairy caveman with a big club and I don’t seek out soldiers wanting to crucify me.  But what about fear in my spiritual world?  As a child I became  an extremely fearful person listening to the stories of a judgmental, white-haired, bearded, vengeful, fire-breathing, old man sitting in the heavens just waiting for an opportunity to BBQ me in hell.  The people telling those stories were not evil; they were merely misinformed.

That childhood fear was irrational, not based on truth.  Today, I have the truth in front of me in the words and teachings of the man whom Jewish countrymen hoped to be the deliverer from Roman and religious oppression.  He was not that messiah.  He died like many other victims ignobly hung from a cross.  Centuries later the Roman church fathers assembled writings about Jesus into a plan for successful living which suggested we could have freedom from fear.

I believe that is what the book of John tells me.

“If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  John 8:36

It’s not rocket science.  In his lifetime, Jesus spoke to his disciples and his followers in parables.  Analogy and metaphor detailed what he was trying to teach about the spiritual world in which he dwelled.  Essential to delivering those teachings was not only the faith of his followers in who he was, but also Jesus’ faith in an eternal, everlasting presence which he named as God, his Father.

Scriptures tell us that Jesus suffered the human condition just as we do.  He displayed anger, compassion, doubt, disappointment, and fear.  The lowly carpenter from Nazareth probably suffered the same concerns about clothing, housing, and providing food for his family as we do.  He enjoyed the company of his Jewish brothers and sisters, attended weddings, and partied with sinners.  That’s what gives me hope.  Jesus was not a saint when he was alive on earth.  He became divine centuries later only when the fathers of “Christianity” proclaimed him to be so.  But, while alive on this earth, Jesus was just like you and I.

That gives me tons of hope and reason to have faith.  I, too, can be a better version of me.  Temporal fear is a life-preserver, but soul fear is merely an absence of faith in what Jesus can do with me as a child of God.  A Psalmist from long ago told me to not be afraid of walking this earth even when death and darkness surround me because the love and compassion of God will protect my soul, will lead me out of that deep valley into a place of gentleness and kindness where I will dwell forvever in His mercy and grace.  Amen, my cup is overflowing.

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HE KNOWS

“And all the weight that brings you to your knees…..He knows.”

All the bitter weary ways
Endless striving day by day
You barely have the strength to pray
In the valley low

And how hard your fight has been
How deep the pain within
Wounds that no one else has seen
Hurts too much to show

And all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees

He knows, He knows
Every hurt and every sting
He has walked the suffering
He knows, He knows
Let your burdens come undone
Lift your eyes up to the One who knows
He knows

We may faint and we may sink
Feel the pain and near the brink
But the dark begins to shrink
When you find the One who knows
The chains of doubt that held you in between
One by one are starting to break free
Every time that you feel forsaken
Every time that you feel alone
He is near to the broken hearted
Every tear
He knows

 

Only you, Lord, know the depth of our suffering and pain.  Loss of friends, health issues, insecurities, fears, self-doubt, depression bring us into the deepest valley with seemingly no escape.  But, You know us, You know our pains and You have the words that heal us. You never abandon us even in the darkest times. Hallelujah!

Songwriters: Jeremy Camp,Seth Mosley
© CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP
For non-commercial use only.
Data From: LyricFind

EPIPHANY – jan 6

At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

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Epiphany as a Christian feast finds its earliest reference in AD 361 by Ammianus Marcellinus.  This day, marking the end of Christmastide, celebrates the announcement to the entire world of the arrival of the Christ – the union of human and divine – in the child named Jesus.

The child Jesus was brought into existence to proclaim first to the Jewish shepherds and secondly to all non-Jews the birth of a new order in the world where man and God are united.   This baby Jesus was proclaimed to all mankind, regardless of race and creed or sex and lifestyle, as a king, savior and messiah.  Jesus, the man, through teachings and words attributed to him, asserted the worth and value of all humankind.  None is excluded.  Neither you nor I, Muslim nor Hindu, American nor Mexican is missing a seat at his table.  That is the essence of the feast of Epiphany.  Love and compassion incarnate came into the world to show us how to live.

 

 

CREEP

Nails it!  Never felt good enough.  Never fit in.  Never loved who I was.  Just a creep and a weirdo.  Became the prodigal, the runaway and misfit.  Lived in the far country carousing in spiritual poverty.  And then – on bended knee surrendered to the One who didn’t see a freak, didn’t see my ugliness, didn’t care what I had done.

This song is about rejection.  Rejection is painful.  Makes us feel useless and unimportant.  Makes us sad and depressed.  Unloved.  But, Lord, you are the Comforter, the Consoler, the Healer.  Please, today, work your miracles.  Comfort, console, heal and make us whole.

When you were here before
Couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
And I wish I was special
You’re so ****** special

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

I don’t care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul

I want you to notice
When I’m not around
You’re so ******special
I wish I was special

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

She’s running out again,
She’s running out
She’s run run run run

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You’re so ***** special
I wish I was special

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.
I don’t belong here.

Songwriters: BILL SMITH,GEORGE HUBBARD JR CAMPBELL
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne will speak to the risks of practicing discipleship. Shane is the co-founder of the Simple Way, a faith community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped to birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. His ministry experience is varied, from a 10-week stint working alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta to a year spent serving a wealthy mega-congregation called Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago. Shane is the author of several books including “The Irresistible Revolution”, “Jesus for President” and “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers.”

Show me

I’m claiming this verse today:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.  Psalm 143:8

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