When Fear Paralyzes

key to my life   FEAR PARALYZES.  God gave his people an inheritance of land with a promise. However, the people of Joseph came to their leader Joshua complaining that that their population was too dense for the land space allotted to them. Joshua didn’t budge. If they were so numerous, then be a numerous people with great power and make something of the land. Still, they complained of the obstacles that seemed to define them in their shaky selves. Joshua kept pushing back with God’s promise already given to them.

What devastating weakness lurks in my life, that doubt that makes me shake in my boots?  Remember, fear paralyzes when we forget who is in control. Measure risk by God’s promise. His promise is a sure thing outweighing the loss every time.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Col. 1:11-12)

Tim Keller object of faith
Often, courage  is defined by NOT reflecting what we are surrounded by, but rather courage will call for us to step away from the devastating norm and lead into a new direction by faith in God’s promise.

 

You’re Not Home Yet

I am reminded that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. When I find myself in a place I don’t want to be, I whisper to my soul…you’re not home yet.

When the day feels troubled… when pressure mounts…when I feel lost and I am losing my way…when I suddenly am overwhelmed and anxious, I run to you, Father.  I ask for Your help, and You listen to me with a heart of love.  I make a conscious choice to turn to You.  I don’t turn to others first when I am in distress, but I am crying out to you, my dear Father.  I feel urgency rising,  my request is pleading and fervent.  I need rescue from liars and devious deception.
You are my God and my Father.  I am your child running to you for help.  I need you.
hope with ink swirleys

My head is full of questions.  What else does the blazing distorter of truth want?  What more can I do for the artful manipulator and shameless liar?  Deceptive, false words are like a sharp & pointed arrow dipped into the fiery poison of hell sent to destroy.  I feel helpless and frustrated.
C.S, Lewis made for another world

I do not belong here.  I feel full of self-pity as I look upon my circumstances.   All of this pain reminds me that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. I find myself in a place I don’t want to be.  I am only a sojourner in this land of rage & upset.  I pursue peace, but they persist in inflaming controversy and stirring up trouble.

Father, as I give you this heart of angst, I remember that I am not home yet.  You give me fresh mercy every day, but I live still in this alien world full of hate. I need You, Father.         Every.  Day.  Not Where I BELONG

One writer reveals the tension well, “the new humanity that is created around Jesus is not a humanity that is always going to be successful and in control of things, but a humanity that can reach out its hand from the depths of chaos, to be touched by the hand of God.”  Father, I am humbly grateful that You are near to the broken who are living in the land of Chaos.

Rescue me from the lies of advertisers who claim to know what I need and what I desire, from the lies of entertainers who promise a cheap way to joy, from the lies of politicians who pretend to instruct me in power and morality, from the lies of psychologists who offer to shape my behavior and my morals so that I will live long, happily, and successfully, from the lies of religionists who “heal the wounds of this people lightly,” from the lies of moralists who pretend to promote me to the office of captain of my fate, from the lies of pastors who “leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men” (Mk. 7:8). Rescue me from the person who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit. The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions of falsified data. But they are lies all the same because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God. They talk about the world without telling us that God made it. They tell us about our bodies without telling us that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. They instruct us in love without telling us about the God who loves us and gave himself for us. — Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 23.

(I wrote this post as my own paraphrase of Psalm 120.)

 

One Voice in the Cacophony

Noise.  It’s all around us.
voices-r2Daily, we hear a clamor of voices originating from outside of ourselves vying for attention.  Then there are voices directing our focus within, to our own feelings, experiences, and inner voice.  “Follow your heart” echoes in the cacophonic chaos.  This is not a new experience– wasn’t our mother Eve deceived by followng her own desires? by listening to an unknown voice?

There is one distinct voice that should be heard.  Jesus Himself taught about listening to voices.  An extraordinary teacher, Jesus often observed ordinary objects or everyday work to use as illustrations.  Since raising sheep was common, Jesus used it to explain with simple comparisons saying, “The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”

Outrage prevails or apathy blinds, and like sheep we go astray.  We listen to the discordant, exacting voices that demand more and more, news reports slice and dice sound bytes, the public outcry of outrage.  The New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks wrote, “Commentators ruthlessly vilify all involved from the island of their own innocence. Everyone gets to proudly ask: ‘How could they have let this happen?’”  Sometimes the dissonance is overwhelming, and we numbly distance ourselves from the uncomfortable. headinsand Like the ostrich we bury our heads because we do not want to face the evils around us or the daily dose of stress.


But, in each life, there exists a dark valley which resists being ignored.

Paul Miller writes, “Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.”  Jesus calls each child of God by name as their Shepherd. “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life,and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.”  The goodness of the Shepherd is seen in Psalm 23, but the world’s voice increasingly shouts louder excluding the Shepherd’s voice.  The sheep are vulnerable and hopeless without the Shepherd.  When the goodness of the Shepherd is removed from the Ps. 23, it is striking what remains:  we are left alone with our perennial struggles, unmet wants and controlling fears.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads
me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff
,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You annoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

To hear the Good Shepherd’s voice is to be known and loved.  It is to do life with Life.   The Good Shepherds speaks safety and assurance overcoming the loud noise of the world, I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Meare thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.

 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. Shepherd and the lambs
I have come
so that they may have life
and have it in abundance.

One Shepherd.

One Voice.

“The Shepherd and the Lambs,” Project Gutenberg’s Mother Stories from the New Testament, by Anonymous.