Category Archives: Fear

Battling the Fear of Being Useless

Last night a group of us at Calvary Bible Church finished working through the DVD series, Battling Unbelief, by John Piper.  Here is a segment that was particularly helpful for me.

 

 

Subscribe in a reader

Advertisements

Stepping Outside the Christian Bubble to Obey Jesus

I want to tell you something that I’m afraid of for myself, my local church, and the Church in America (especially the South).  I’m afraid of the Christian sub-culture and the negative effect it can have on our obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.  The Christian sub-culture is a culture we have created within the larger culture of our cities.  It serves as a bubble of separation from the secular world, and it is nice and safe inside.  Let me tell you what’s inside – there’s encouragement, people serving you and praying for you, very little profanity if any, everyone talks about how good God is, the movies are clean, everyone agrees on the most fundamental issues, if there’s alcohol it’s only in small doses, you can understand all the lyrics to the music, when asked how we’re doing everyone answers “I’m blessed”, and the only risk you take is sending your kids to children’s church knowing that they could develop a mild addiction to lemonade and goldfish crackers.  The Christian bubble is comfortable, but you probably already knew that.  We stay in the Christian bubble by coming to the worship service on Sundays, Bible studies during the week, going home to our Christian families, going out to eat at Chik-fil-A, shopping at Lifeway and Hobby Lobby, hanging out with our Christian friends, and spending as little time around unbelievers as possible.

Now, of course, I am exaggerating, but perhaps not much.  In our Southern, Bible-belt culture it is not that hard to avoid the world; to avoid unbelievers, and therefore, to avoid the commandments Jesus has given us that can only be obeyed in purposeful interaction with the lost – “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  One Christian radio station in town boasts that they’re “safe for the whole family”.  I understand what they’re saying – that they’re music is not scattered with immorality and obscenities and parents don’t have to keep turning down the volume or switching stations.  But my question is, “Have we taken this idea of safety from the world to seed?”  Meaning, have we taken the command to remain unstained by the world to the extreme that says “avoid unbelievers” or at least, “avoid behavior that is too holy and conversations where words like ‘sin’ or ‘Jesus’ are used”.

In an attempt to be a holy people, we have we given Christianity shoulder pads, shin guards, helmets, and a bullet-proof vest when Jesus is saying “Trust me and do what I say”.  Let us not forget the tension in Christianity where striving for moral purity and influencing the world for Christ are both commands we must obey – we cannot forsake one for the other.  Christianity involves great risk – you risk your comfort, your reputation, your safety, your possessions, your job, your relationships, and so on.  If we’re going to be men and women who are committed to our great Master, then we’ve got to stop protecting our comfort and step outside of the Christian bubble both spatially and relationally.

 

Subscribe in a reader


What to Believe if You Ever See a Mountain Change Locations

What do you immediately think of when I say “mountains”?  Surely words that describe their beauty come to mind (majestic, breath-taking, magnificent) as well as words that describe their size (massive, gargantuan, humongous), but at the same time, you’re probably thinking of words that describe their stability (immovable, solid, inflexible).

No one I have ever met or read about has seen a mountain change locations, yet in Psalm 46, the sons of Korah use this prospect as a way to teach us something about God.  In verses 1-2 we read, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear… though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.”  If the most stable, unyielding objects in all of creation were to suddenly start yielding to outside force and become unstable, there is still One who remains stable and unyielding.

People who live near mountains never run to their windows in the morning and fling the curtains open to check and see if the mountains are still there.  When I finally get back to Colorado for a ski vacation, I expect to find the mountains just as I left them.  The mountains are a symbol of “unchanging” in a world that is constantly changing, yet even if the mountains change in drastic manner, we should not panic because God remains our immovable refuge, and he is always there.

What are the “mountains” in your life that you depend on in the fearful times?  Is it a certain person?  That person will fail you.  Is it your job?  This economy is telling us that no one’s job is safe.  Is it your abilities?  Your abilities will begin to disintegrate with age.  But if you are in Christ, God will love you just as much as he always has (as much as his Son), he will be just as strong as he always has, and unlike everything you trust in this life that begins to slip away with time, time will only bring you deeper into the experience of God’s love.  Mountains can move, but God cannot.

 

Subscribe in a reader


How The Gospel Frees Us From the Fear of Awkward Silence: Part Two

Yesterday, in exploring the fear of awkward silence, I mentioned two reasons why I am concerned that this fear is a bigger threat than many of us realize: 1) In the context of local church, this fear can keep us from having spiritually-beneficial conversation with members and visitors, many of whom desperately need such conversation.  2) This fear can also keep us from getting to the meat of a conversation where you get to know a person and opportunities for encouragement and counsel are more numerous.  Bottom line: this fear keeps us from fellowship and ministry.

As I also wrote, this fear often stems from our desire to impress people and be seen by them in a certain light.  When we can’t think of anything to say and awkward silence rears its ugly head, the image or identity we are trying to create with a person quickly begins to dissolve.

How do we escape this fear so we can take advantage of our conversations for the glory of God?  Do we just grit our teeth and push through the silence?  Do we just say the first bonehead thing that comes to mind?  No, we need to remember specific aspects of the gospel so that we take the fight to the root of this fear.  In remembering the gospel, you discover that you have been given a new identity and a new purpose.  Church, this changes everything!

Your new identity – Paul tells us in Romans 8:15, “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba!  Father!’”  So often we work and toil trying to create an identity for ourselves (who we want people to think of us as), so we strategically craft our words, our appearance, and, in the in the case of awkward silence, the time when we choose to exit a conversation.  The gospel says that this work is over because we have been given our identity.  We don’t have to work to create an identity for ourselves because, through Jesus’ work, God has already given us one.  And not just any identity, but the identity of sons and daughters of the Most High God!  Is there a higher and more important identity in the universe that we can be given?  We don’t have to be afraid of awkward silence because whether there’s silence in a conversation or not, if we are in Christ, then we will still have the most significant identity that a human being can be given.  We don’t lose our identity as sons and daughters of God because we couldn’t think of something eloquent or funny to say.

Your new purpose – Before we became Christians, our purpose in life was to serve ourselves by any means available, but in Christ, things changed drastically.  In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul writes, “…and [Jesus] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  If we are simply living to serve ourselves, then leaving a conversation when awkward silence is looming overhead is no big deal because you will feel better by leaving.  But if your purpose in life is now to live for Jesus instead of yourself, then leaving a conversation for fear of silence means walking away from the purpose God has given you.  This doesn’t mean that you now have to accept the miserable burden of continuing to talk to someone even when it gets awkward.  It means that you get to accept the wonderful privilege of fulfilling your God-given purpose by seeking the good of another for Jesus.  See, if you understand what purpose is, then you understand that to fulfill your purpose means to experience joy and peace.

As we seek to live for Christ by building up his body through spiritually-beneficial conversation (even when there’s a little bit of silence), we are acting out of God’s identity and purpose for us… which means we will also experience the joy he has for us.

Subscribe in a reader


How The Gospel Frees Us From the Fear of Awkward Silence: Part One

There is a certain part of me that fears awkward silence.  When you get to that moment in a conversation when you can’t think of anything else to say and it’s obvious that the person you’re talking with isn’t coming up with anything either, a little bit of hysteria sets in.  In the midst of awkward silence, time seems to slow down when all you want is for it to speed up, you think desperately of something to say that will be better for the conversation than grunts and nods but you’re drawing a blank, and you get this sinking feeling that the dialogue you are having is going down in flames and the chances of survival are miniscule.

Perhaps you can relate…  and if you can’t, consider yourself blessed.  If the above description sounds even a little bit like something you’ve experienced, then there’s more for you to be concerned with than you think.  Here are two reasons why I believe this: 1) In the context of the local church, the fear of awkward silence can often keep us from having spiritually-beneficial conversations with certain church members and visitors, many of whom are in serious need of such conversations.  Essentially, this fear can keep us from obeying the “one-another” commandments of Scripture, especially the ones that we feel are most conducive to awkward silence (i.e. rebuke, exhortation, giving counsel, correction).  2) The fear of awkward silence can also keep us from getting to the meat of a conversation – that part of the conversation where things get a little more personal and the opportunities for biblical encouragement and counsel increase.  When awkward silence hits, too often we duck and run with a line that sounds something like, “Well, gotta go find the wife… have a good one”.  Persevering through silence and allowing a conversation to mature can be what God uses to change a person’s perspective for the rest of the day… or week… or more.

Much of the time, our fear of awkward silence comes from an ungodly desire to be seen by people in a certain way.  We have a certain persona we want to keep up and, to one degree or another, we want to impress others with what we say.  In the case of awkward silence, we have nothing left to say and that doesn’t bode well for the person we want people to think we are.  How can we move past this fear and take advantage of our conversations for the glory of God?  Come back tomorrow when we will look at how the gospel of Jesus Christ directly applies to this problem.

 

Subscribe in a reader


%d bloggers like this: