Monthly Archives: December 2013

Getting Personal: Fear, Bravery, and “I’ve Got This”

I feel like the last six months of my life have been hammering home the message to not fear.   God’s been teaching me this lesson for years now, but He’s actually starting to expect me to walk in the Light of this teaching, lol.  So that’s why you’ve gotten so much maundering on about it.  It’s not so much proper fear as it is the day to day small anxieties that I’ve noticed are just totally pointless.  God’s got this!

*If* I am doing what He wants me to do (more-or-less) and working to glorify Him and obey Him, then what happens in my life is His will and I shouldn’t stress out about it.  Everything from traffic lights to projects will work together for good.  (Not, sometimes, momentary pleasure on my part – I mean “good” in the long-term sense).  I’ll learn a lesson, get what needs to get done, done… and it will be good.

I have wasted a lot of my life worrying about what “They” will think of me.  Of what I do, what I say, the way I live my life.  Yeah, I got burned by “them” back in the day… so what?  People sometimes hurt you, it’s not that big a deal in the long term.  I am not terribly socially ept, so I am forever doing something to annoy someone – usually with the best of intentions.  I like people, and it hurts when they don’t like me back.  Choice – shall I stay away from people I don’t know, or should I get out there and *try*?  Should I speak my mind or talk only about the weather?

I’ve gotten burned more times when my goal was to placate some human or group of humans.  When I exit the bounds of acting in love and start acting out of fear-of-man, I get screwed up in a big way.  When I do what I know to be right, things go okay.  Sometimes relationships break, but I’m basically okay with it – and I’m okay with the gal in the mirror.  When I start worrying about what someone is going to think of me, it snowballs and I obsess and then nothing I do becomes about them, it’s all always about me, and how they feel about me.  Embracing fear pushes love right out the door!  On the contrary, when I do something because I want to love someone around me, I tend to do a pretty decent job of pleasing them, it comes in the bargain.

So I face social fear – and I face day-to-day fear.  I’m a small woman and I live in not the safest neighborhood in the world.  Eventually you have to make the choice – are you going to hold your head up and smile, or are you going to ball yourself up and scurry away like a hamster?  I used to walk my kids to school (back when they went to public school) and our route passed in front of the parole office.   Not such a big deal when in full mom mode – but walking past the gentlemen waiting for the bus just outside that door all alone?  Not the most comfortable thing to do.  We get a lot of homeless walking to and from bus routes on my street.  Strange men, walking past my house, all day long.  Do I close my blinds and hide, or go on with my life?  It’s not like I enjoy weeding anyway…

You know – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being sensible, and when the man who screams at his own arm walks down the street, you go inside.  But the rest of the time, fear simply cannot master you, or you find that its mastery spreads like dye in water.  I’m not fearless – every time, I have to gather my courage and set my chin and make the choice to be civil.  If I were fearless, this essay wouldn’t need to be written!

It’s easy when my husband is at home.  I can put my faith in him.  Strong arms and swift reactions… I don’t even think of being afraid when he is here.  But my husband’s job is not to guard me.  It’s so very easy to let someone else do the heavy lifting in life.   I’m not advocating being foolish… but total safety doesn’t exist, and fear is a bad master.  Take appropriate care, and get on with your life, do what needs to be done.  If you put your faith in another human, that human will eventually fail you.  Put your faith in God!  He will never leave you or forsake you.

Because sometimes you need to write that letter, deal with that strange man in the parking lot, drive through the storm.

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The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself

We spend so much time worrying about temporal happiness and temporal safety.  We have a culture of distrust – women distrust men, men distrust women, any group of people you can gather together is easily prodded to distrust the “others”.  It’s gotten a little boring for me, frankly.  What’s the point?  Other people will hurt you.  This is news?

When you stop worrying about what other people might do to you, and start worrying about how you’re going to be judged by an Almighty God for your own actions, then you can start getting somewhere with your life.  We only get one chance to glorify His name and spread the Word.  We only get this pair of hands to work with, we only get this life to live in this body, and He can take that away from us before the next breath.

But God, being just, does not judge you on what you were not given.  We, as Christians, are not accountable to other humans, and we are not found to have “won” or “lost” by human measure.  We are accountable to God Himself.   Drag me to the chopping block – I’m accountable for the manner of my death.  Lock me in a prison cell, I’m accountable for the time I spend alone with God.  Give me riches, wealth and power – and I’m accountable for how I use them.   This makes me terrifyingly free, even in chains.

If you run your life being afraid of what other people might do, you’re not doing much with your life.  Everyone in your life is a mortal, therefore everyone will fail you.  The best spouse in the world is subject to illness, accident and death.  Your family, likewise.  Dearest friends might move away.  Your environment should not determine your effectiveness in the absolute.

Modern humans have lost this sense of absolute accountability.  That’s why our judges and rulers are so horrible.  They’re not afraid of the Final Court.  No, to them the temporary court of human opinion, which is so easily swayed by displays of status and wealth… that’s all that matters.  The court of public opinion has always been fickle.  If you seek to win by its rules, may God have mercy on your soul – for the temporal court has no mercy at all.

Death before dishonor once meant something to women and men alike.  But it is only if you believe in the Final Court and the Great Judge that dishonor has meaning.

It’s not a sin to try to make life less unpleasant for yourself, and it’s not a sin to buy insurance or take appropriate measures to provide for rainy days.  It’s a sin to trust in that temporal assurance.  It’s not a sin to seek love, for every human born wants to be loved – but it’s folly to trust in love for happiness.

People *will* fail you, but God will not.  So, live for God.  What is it that He has entrusted to you?  Cherish that.  What lion’s den has He asked you to enter?  Enter that.   He doesn’t promise any one of us a life free of pain or persecution.   We are promised something far better, and we have no way of knowing when we’ll be called Home.  Let us do the best we can with this very temporary moment, trusting in Him with our riches and future.

 

 

SSM’s thread (https://sunshinemaryandthedragon.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/on-the-achievement-gap-between-modern-young-men-and-women/ ) made me think of this post, but it really doesn’t have much to do with it.  It’s an odd brain I have…

Bravery

A few months ago, a conversation with a friend made me realize something about myself that I didn’t know.  I’m brave.  I don’t/didn’t think of myself as brave, because in the fight/flight response, I always freeze.  By the time I’ve figured out what to do, the other people around have already started doing things, and I generally follow their lead.  I’m perfectly happy to do this – I know my own capabilities, and combat isn’t one of them.

Anyway, there aren’t generally too many folks around who are smaller/weaker than I am, so my protective streak (and I have one, a mile wide) doesn’t come into play very often.  But when it does… see, that’s the thing.  It comes up so seldom, that I do the darndest things because they just seem like the obvious things that need doing, so I do them.  (And then usually my husband has some words with me – self preservation isn’t my strong suit, and neither are tactics).

Isn’t that what bravery is?  Doing what needs doing because it needs to be done, and not worrying a whole lot about yourself?

Since I’m protective but not aggressive, and my protective urge doesn’t pop up very often… I have a hard time knowing what to do in tense situations.  And once I have my back up, it’s hard for me to return to rest.  That’s the thing – I am small, and I am non-threatening, and I strongly dislike aggression, but once you trigger the protection… it doesn’t go away.  Until I no longer perceive a threat, I stand guard.

Once my dog was badly mauled by a pit bull*.  As soon as he was vertical, when the pit bull was playing in the yard next door, he’d put his own body between the dog and my kids (and me) while I got the kids inside (there’s a long story to this).  It’s not because my dog thought he could take down the pit bull.  He knew that he couldn’t.  He hadn’t put a mark on him defending his own life.  But he knew that he could slow him down long enough to keep us safe.  And that’s bravery.  Knowing you don’t have a chance, but getting in there because it’s the thing that needs doing.

So, how does this relate to Christian living?  I’m not too sure.  Bravery isn’t one of the cardinal virtues.  It’s not a bad thing in principle, but it can lead you (me) into folly.  So, if I’m going to be on guard, I need to learn how to be on guard the way Jesus wants me to be, and not turn fear-aggressive.

Yeah.  That’s the ticket.  Keep the protection, keep the bravery, lose the fear.   (I often talk things out to think things out, why do you think I have three blogs?)  I don’t have to bristle in response to threat, I need to stand firm in my faith in Christ and not in my own pathetic strength.  And thus, I have no need to fear.

In the moments when I was called to act… I never could have planned out my response to any of those moments, because I never imagined them.

But we’re not supposed to prepare our responses, we’re supposed to prepare our hearts.

Mark 9: 11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost

Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

*English Setter (hunting version).   Long long story – and no, I don’t have it against pit bulls.  Against owners of intact male dogs with a digging-under-fences problem who don’t control their pets?  Well.  That’s a different story.  It *did* go home when I told it to, even with my dog’s blood in its mouth.   What?  I told you I was brave insane.  And yes, I got chewed out for not taking a weapon with me.  Didn’t occur to me, frankly.

Ashamed?

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

We have the Truth.  We have the Gospel.  We have the Light!

It is easy to become afraid because our culture is becoming “post-Christian”.  Our world-view is attacked, our default settings for decent behavior dissolve.

We become fearful.

But our faith doesn’t rest in our temporal power.  Our faith doesn’t rest in our good works.  Our faith doesn’t reside in making this fallen world a better place.  Our faith rests in the Messiah, the King, Jesus the Christ.

Does our faith lie in our wealth?  In the plenty that is in our hands?  Is that where it’s supposed to be?

Revelation 3: 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 

Our faith is above.  Our futures are entirely secure.  If you know the Bible to be Truth, if you know your God to be just, if you know the cause you follow to be righteous… then  you don’t need to be afraid of people who choose the dark instead of the light.

Revelation 9: 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

We stand for the light……. we have already won.  Our business is to get the word out to as many people as possible, to show that we *do* have the Light and the Truth, and then let God take care of the rest.

The time is short…… let’s remember that we have Someone to be proud of.

What are you afraid of?

I see that the Satanists want to put up a statue next to the Ten Commandments in Oklahoma.  I say, let ’em.  But let’s have them put up *their* eleven commandments*.  I can walk my child up to the lists and say, “here you go.  Which list sounds like it makes for a better planet?”  Sure.  The Ten Commandments aren’t easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy… so what?  Do you want to live in our world – or theirs?

The secular humanists are going all out in Belgium.  They’re pushing a new law, allowing children to choose to be euthanized**.  A doctor would have a ‘chat’ with them telling them about their choices.  Post-Christian Europe.    This is what you wanted…. 

Did anyone see the philosophical debate going about the permissability of infanticide as just an extended form of abortion?  -cough- Gosnell -cough-  

I don’t like living in the world where I have to have discussions like this with my kids EITHER.   I want to live in a safe, happy place where there’s no danger and no dark.  I don’t like raising my kids in this world.  It disgusts me.  I want to scream and cry.   I don’t like having to find the bar of decent behavior somewhere around my ankles.  The darkness grows.

But we live here.  We live now.  No sense whinging about it.  We *can* use this to our advantage.  “Yeah, we Christians don’t always live up to our ideals.  But have you read what we’re shooting for?  What did you say they were going for?  Oh.  Personal empowerment at any cost?  Awesome.  How does that work out for the people around them?”

See, everyone wants to think of themselves as wolves rather than sheep.  Fine.  But in a land of sheep, everyone can be fat and happy.  In a land of wolves, eventually you get down to fang and claw, and only the strongest survive.   In a land of only wolves, eventually there can be only one, and the last wolf standing starves to death.  

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the *Light*…. Christians don’t have to be afraid of the dark.

John 3:19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

Joshua 24:14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 

(verses taken from the New American Standard Bible, via Biblegateway)

 

 

 

*Look up the eleven commandments yourself.  I don’t feel right linking it.  The Satanist statue fluff? http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/09/satanists-we-want-a-monument-in-oklahoma/  Mostly it’s just grown up tantrum throwing, but there you are.

*http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/27/world/europe/belgium-euthanasia-children/  Sure.  Because authority figures make no difference to children.

People vs. Things

I’ll assume that those of you with open eyes have noticed that this world is getting progressively more evil.  That’s nice, in that it’s much easier to see that black is wrong rather than endless shades of grey… but it’s not nice in any other way I can think of.  It’s certainly not nice to live in this world, to see the evil that’s all around you.

When you see the systemic evil, the first thing that comes to mind is that we should fight the evil systemically.  If God has called you to this, God bless.  But I think that we make more of a difference by working in the lives of individuals.   If there were more Christians in this world, and they were all serious, committed Christians who obeyed Christ out of a heart of love… wouldn’t most of the world’s problems take care of themselves pretty quickly?

(I tend to think we’re getting Raptured out soon… but that doesn’t mean you take your hand off the Work, it means you work more earnestly because the “time’s up” bell is going to go off any second.   Either way, good is achieved).

What can we do?  Love people.  Verb-Love people.  Get out there and say the good word, do the good thing.

I guess this is what I say all the time… but it’s so darn easy to say that “someone else has this” or “the problem is too big” – well, someone else is working on something, and  yes, the problem is too big.  So what?  You’re supposed to get out there and love people anyway.  You’re supposed to let the Holy Spirit work through you.  You’re supposed to pray unceasingly, and live a life of faith.

God will make of us what He pleases.  He will make of our efforts what He pleases.  We need to not forget either that we are dependent on Him – or that He has instructed us to get busy.

The Parable of the Talents … again

You’re asking yourself, is Hearth never going to get away from the parable of the talents?

Apparently not.

So.  I was volunteering away at church yesterday and talking to an older lady as we prepared the communion trays for service.  She was excited, telling me how wonderful the intern program is.  She and her husband had gone through the program together, even though he wasn’t someone who liked to read or write.  (You have to do quite a bit of reading in this program).   She was telling me *how excited* she was about one of the teaching sessions, because prior to that session she hadn’t known that the Bible was true.  (She was 75 when she made that realization).

-blinks-

Now, I know that there are plenty of people who *don’t believe* that the Bible is true, or the Word of God.  But I’d never heard of someone who grew up in the church (even in a mainline denomination) who just thought the book was a book of pretty stories.   Seventy five years of life and no one had ever told her that this thing was real.

This makes me want to jump up and scream.  I’m not talking about some teenybopper today who hasn’t been raised with any knowledge of the truth.  I’m talking about a much older lady who went through school when the Bible was taught in school, who grew up in a church, who wanted to do the good thing.  WHAT THE .. ARE WE CHRISTIANS DOING?

Look.  I *like* theological arguments.  They’re fun.  But while those of us who have educations and faith are arguing amongst ourselves about how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, there are people out there – in our towns, in our neighborhoods – who don’t have the first idea that God is real, or that anyone they know is willing to build a life around His reality.

We’re hoarding.  Hoarding knowledge, hoarding love, hoarding truth.  It’s wrong, it’s shameful, and it must stop.  We’ve *got* to come out of our Christian closet and confess the name of Jesus.  We’ve *got* to talk about basing our lives on the Word of God.  Everyone else talks about their lives, their faiths, their walks… but we don’t.  Don’t want to ruffle feathers.

For my whole life, I thought that the people around me, at least the “decent” people around me, had heard about this God guy and – if they’d refused Him – had refused Him from some choice at least.

But there are so many who have only heard about Him in passing.  And they’re going to die without Him.

I have been given *so much*… what am I doing with it?