When you listen to music sites like You Tube, there are algorithms that continue to play music based upon your initial request. If your first request is a Christian artist, this doesn’t guarantee that Christian music will continue to play. This is how I stumbled upon the group Flyleaf which is a rock band that formed in Belton, Texas, back in 2002 with Lacey Sturm as lead vocalist.
By this you may know (perceive and recognize) the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [actually] has become man and has come in the flesh is of God [has God for its source]; 1 John 4:2.
Flyleaf is one of those secular bands that features lyrics with biblical themes beneath the surface. While All Around Me doesn’t refer to anything spiritual, there are many days where people feel trouble all around them. When I recently listened to this song, the passage above came to my mind. As trials surface in your life, who do you turn to? If you’re not sure, turn to Jesus so you’re not overwhelmed by fear.
Two first century authors use the imagery of a door to prove their point. The apostle Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil an open door to enter your life. This analogy suggests that you shouldn’t leave a crack or a gap. One of Jesus’ disciples focuses on the positive. This spiritual illustration uses God’s love as a source of superior power to snuff out fear by closing the door.
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.
As I read the passage above recently, my mind turned to 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Trying to confront the Devil alone is reckless. Yet, when you learn to take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ, shutting the door on fear is possible. If fear feeds on weakened minds that become paralyzed by ungodly beliefs, you’re giving the Devil a foothold to use your fears against you.
When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him], Ephesians 4:26-27.
One of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a predator that feeds on isolated and wounded Christians. When a door is left ajar or cracked open, fear will enter your dreams while you’re sleeping. Anyone who doesn’t shut the door on fear will allow nightmares to continue to fester. These threats will only intensify as time goes by. This is why shutting the door on fear is essential for all Christians to practice.
FOMO is a social anxiety disorder that stems from the belief that others might be having fun while the person experiencing the anxiety is not present. Likely a byproduct and symptom of social media, the fear of missing out is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. This condition mostly affects teenagers and college students who struggle with self-esteem issues.
Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice, Isaiah 41:10.
An Old Testament prophet who died a martyr death addresses fear in the passage above. According to biblical historians, Isaiah was suspended upside down between two trees by Manasseh around 685 Before Christ. While it’s unclear if he was given the chance to recant his faith, Isaiah was literally sawed in two. This unseemly fate occurred to a man who once said, “there is nothing to fear when you’re in God’s hands.”
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.
The apostle Paul builds upon Isaiah’s words in one of two letters to a teenage pastor. Pointing to the power of the Holy Spirit, the best way to overcome fear is by looking up to God. Instead bowing down to foreign spirits of cowardice and fear, God provides the discipline necessary to confront and conquer FOMO. Since you can’t be everywhere that you want, listen to God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you’re where God needs you to be.
As a former high school teacher, I regularly witnessed actions of pausing or hesitating before saying or doing something. Most students were afraid to open up in class, often caving to peer pressure. While discussing hot button topics, some teens would be on the verge of letting their guard down. However, after looking around for a brief moment, many would immediately stop talking, holding back how they really felt.
Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians [we are hiding nothing, keeping nothing back], and our heart is expanded wide [for you]! 12 There is no lack of room for you in [our hearts], but you lack room in your own affections [for us], 2 Corinthians 6:11-12.
During the first century, the apostle Paul noticed a similar pattern. When surface level conversation turned the corner toward spiritual issues, members of the church of Corinth were afraid open up. Perhaps, uneasy about sharing their new found faith in Christ with non-Christian neighbors, spiritual momentum ceased. Apparently, Roman Christians possessed the same issue, ashamed or embarrassed of the gospel, Romans 1:16-17.
By way of return then, do this for me—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also [to us], 2 Corinthians 6:13.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul provides a disclaimer when evangelizing. This warning urges believers not to become unequally yoked with individuals who possess different beliefs, values and worldviews. Some scholars refer to the concept of missionary dating, getting involved with the goal of winning a soul over to Jesus. Yet, those who attempt this are often conflicted and may be led astray. Nonetheless, if you truly love someone who doesn’t know Jesus, don’t hold anything back.
According to a recent study, there are ten common fears that children share. This list includes fear of flying, of public speaking, of heights, of the dark, intimacy, dying, failure, rejection, spiders, and commitment. When face to face education returns to each state, familiar fears of failure, rejection and public speaking will once again take center stage. Depending upon one’s ability to fit in or find new friends, these fears will either intensify or subside.
For it is like a man who was about to take a long journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his property. 15 To one he gave five talents [probably about $5,000], to another two, to another one—to each in proportion to his own personal ability. Then he departed and left the country. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he gained five talents more. 17 And likewise he who had received the two talents—he also gained two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money, Matthew 25:14-18.
During a conversation about the signs of end times, Jesus tells a story to illustrate what it will be like when the Son of Man will return to earth. Known as the Parable of the Talents, Jesus uses 3 servants to illustrate his point. If you really like your job, you don’t want to disappoint or let your boss down. Thus, you will do everything in your power to fulfill your daily duties so that you may receive praise and or recognition. Any effort less than 100% will be seen as not caring, not afraid of letting others down.
His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys. 24 He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain]. 25 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own. 26 But his master answered him, You wicked and lazy and idle servant! Did you indeed know that I reap where I have not sowed and gather [grain] where I have not winnowed? Then you should have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents, Matthew 25:23-28.
In the passage above, the least trusted servant allows familiar fears to affect his decision. The fear of failure and rejection caused this man to bury his talent. A lack of confidence persuaded this servant to avoid taking a chance or risk. Rather than use basic economics or creativity, fear drove this servant to an illogical decision. When familiar fears aren’t addressed, souls become paralyzed, influencing your thought process. Therefore, if you want to please your heavenly father, begin thinking like God, 2 Timothy 1:7.
The difference between success and failure can be small. A fraction here or a fraction there often determines the final outcome. From a spiritual focus, those who dwell on their circumstances tend to become overwhelmed by fear. This is the situation in the passage below as Israeli soldiers focused on the size of Goliath, a physical giant compared to everyone else. Meanwhile, a skinny shepherd boy sent by his father to bring food to his older brothers noticed Goliath’s weakness. Not being circumcised meant that Goliath was beatable, not covered or protected by God.
And David said to the men standing by him, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? 27 And the [men] told him, Thus shall it be done for the man who kills him. 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard what he said to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David and he said, Why did you come here? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and evilness of heart; for you came down that you might see the battle, 1 Samuel 17:26-28.
Fast forwarding to the New Testament, the disciples found themselves in the middle of a storm. Unable to take shelter, the wind and waves battered their boat stuck on the Sea of Galilee. Despite just witnessing the feeding of the 5000, Jesus’ disciples began to fear. Instead of focusing of the God of miracles, these men focused on the current storm surrounding their boat. After spending time in prayer, Jesus took a short cut to Capernaum by walking across this body of water. Disappointed by their lack of faith, Jesus used his supernatural powers to take this boat immediately to shore.
[However] when they had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat. And they were afraid (terrified). 20 But Jesus said to them, It is I; be not afraid! [I Am; stop being frightened!] 21 Then they were quite willing and glad for Him to come into the boat. And now the boat went at once to the land they had steered toward. [And immediately they reached the shore toward which they had been slowly making their way,] John 6:19-21.
In wake of the Coronavirus, perhaps we all need a refresher course on faith. Hebrews 11:1-6 refers to having the assurance and confidence in an invisible God. Without faith it is impossible to please and satisfy God’s expectations, Matthew 16:24-26. Unfortunately, the moment tides change from blessings to adversity, panic causes many to shift their focus. However, the passage above is a reminder that as soon as you shift your focus from your circumstances toward the God of miracles, help is on the way. May this blog inspire you to shift your focus back toward the Lord.
Until high school, a severe speech impediment kept me from pouring my heart out to others. While my neighborhood friends knew how competitive I was, fear of stuttering prevented me from going beyond surface level conversation. I guess you can say the longer I waited to come out of my shell, anticipation to finally express my inner feelings became like a pressure cooker. When this opportunity arrived, I was ready to become vulnerable.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? 10 I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings, Jeremiah 17:9-10.
As I received invitations to attend Christian camps, lay witness missions and retreats, my heart began to open up, laid bare to complete strangers. I reached a point in life that I no longer cared what others thought about me. Instead of being fake or playing it safe, I immediately opened up to those who I clicked with or related to. Perhaps, this explains why I developed friends so quickly. These friendships propelled me to become a faithful letter writer in college, pouring my heart out via pen every week.
The secrets of his heart are laid bare; and so, falling on [his] face, he will worship God, declaring that God is among you in very truth, 1 Corinthians 14:25.
My vocal coming out party coincided with my decision to become a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. According to the apostle Paul, as you begin to truly worship God, human hearts are laid bare. As I drew closer to God, I became willing to live my life as an open book. Some of my most intimate conversations on earth began with a innocent walk. The moment someone began to confess their sins or unload secret scars from their past, an instant bond is formed. As Christians learn to keep in step with God’s Spirit, hearts will continue to be laid bare.
Depending upon the leader, pastor or speaker at your church, you may or may not be inspired by a sermon. The book definition of inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Thus, as you sit in chairs, pews or watch socially distant at home, the message will move you to act, put you to sleep or cause you to reflect upon a certain aspect of your life. According to an individual who attended the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his followers to put his words into action via practice.
So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it. When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, Matthew 7:24-28.
After being an eye witness of another miracle by Jesus, the disciples were sent by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. However, during the night a squall churned up the waves, making it nearly impossible to cross. While this storm was brewing, Jesus decided to take a shortcut, walking across this body of water. Despite their close relationship with Jesus, Peter was the only disciple who wanted something more than just a message. Perhaps motivated by the feeding of the 5000, Peter took a step of faith.
Then He directed the disciples to get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent away the crowds. 23 And after He had dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was still there alone. 24 But the boat was by this time out on the sea, many furlongs [a furlong is one-eighth of a mile] distant from the land, beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. 30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! – Matthew 14:22-30
Once outside the boat, Peter began to actually walk, stepping over each incoming wave. According to Matthew, a strong gust of wind caused Peter to become afraid. This fear took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus, turning his attention toward his circumstance, the storm. Subsequently, Peter began to sink beneath the crashing waves. Although Peter’s faith failed, he was the only disciple willing to get out of the boat. While no one likes to be embarrassed, if you want something more than just a message, practicing your faith means be willing to risk failure daily.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in cooperation with the American Psychiatric Association outlines several of the most common phobias. If you were wondering how many actual phobias exist on earth, there is no official list provided by the DSM. Phobias typically fall within one of five general categories: fear of animals, the natural environment, getting hurt or sick, specific situations like driving or flying and a generic non-related category referred to as others. Clinicians and researchers make up names for new phobias as the need arises by using Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.
My initial phobia was the fear of heights after visiting the Empire State Building as a children. After several bizarre encounters with snakes and spiders in high school, these two are now at the top of my list. Confronting poisonous snakes and spiders sounds illogical and stupid. Yet, at some point you have to face your fears by trusting in God. Like many things in life, this is easier said than done. Although I have confronted by fear of heights, I still feel uncomfortable looking out the window of a tall building. Nightmares often hinder one’s ability to confront your own phobias. Just like the scene in Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford complains, “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.
In an episode of Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn is asked by God to join the diving team. After a verbal beat down from his girl friend Grace about never taking am uncalculated risk in life, Joan’s brother Luke played by Michael Welch also tries out for the team. Like two fish out of water, neither have the talent to actually make the team, but will they conquer their phobias? This season 2 episode challenged me to examine my own life. Have I stopped taking risks in life? Am I afraid of what others may think instead of doing the right thing? In this age of the Cancel Culture, common sense must be balanced with conviction. However, if you want to confront and conquer your phobias, faith is essential to achieve success.
An Old Testament prophet referred to human hearts as deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9. Perhaps, this explains the reactions by members of the Israeli army upon seeing a 9 feet 6 inch Philistine. Seeing the fear in their eyes, Goliath became bolder each day, challenging anyone to a duel as Jewish soldiers continued to withdraw from the front line in fear. Following in the footsteps of Jonah, Israeli solders ran in the complete opposite direction of their enemy, Jonah 1:3-4.
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatlyafraid, 1 Samuel 17:8-11.
Instead of sending a violent tempest in the case of Jonah, God sent a lowly shepherd boy. David was sent by his father to bring food to his brothers, listening to war stories. When David heard about the reward being offered by King Saul for anyone willing to fight a giant named Goliath, his mood changed. Apparently, his oldest brother Eliab confronted David, suggesting this was a ploy by his little brother to gain attention. After a brief spat, David turned away, trying to receive confirmation about Saul’s reward.
David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth. 34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it. 36 Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God! – 1 Samuel 17:32-36.
According to the passage above, King Saul didn’t take David serious either. Like an unwanted tiny mouse, Saul attempted to shoe David away, not wanting to waste his time on a little kid who didn’t stand a chance. Determined to state his case, David persuades the king with his previous encounters fighting off bears and lions. The secret to David’s success was running toward God instead of fleeing in fear. While every Israeli soldier focused on the strength of a giant, David put his faith in the power of God. The next time you face adversity, run toward God with an expecting heart.