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Entries in Fear (19)

Thursday
Feb202014

Living in the Light: The No-Fear Zone

Quirky humor and deep wisdomthat's Rhonda Rhea. One of her books, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? helps women live in God's light. In this humorous post, she encourages us to move out of the darkness of our fears.

“I don’t care what anyone says, I never laugh in the face of danger,” Rhonda said. “But sometimes, when danger isn’t looking, I point and make faces and call it a big stupidhead. Of course, then if danger looks over, I look down and pretend I’ve been picking lint off my jacket the whole time.”

Oh Rhonda ... I don't think I've ever called danger "a big stupidhead," but I will from now on!

Rhonda continues …

I decided early in life it might be wise to give a respectable deference to danger and fear, at least to their faces. I guess it’s partly because when I was a kid, Bozo the Clown used to sit in a dark corner of my room every night and brood creepishly. It was always in the same corner. Then in the morning he’d be gone and there would be a floor lamp there instead. Eerie.

Since I obviously know my way around the fear topic, here’s my helpful tip of the day: 

If you’re panicking, try taking deep breaths. Unless you’re panicking because you’re drowning. Because then you’re definitely going to need a whole different tack.

On the more serious side, though, isn’t it glorious that as we breathe in the presence of the God of light, we see our fears fade?

When the angel came to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Messiah, the glory-light must’ve been shocking. “The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” (Luke 2:9, NKJV) But the angel’s first words to the shepherds were, “Do not be afraid” (verse 10, NKJV). No need to fear! In fact, the angel brought the good news that the birth of the Messiah was ushering in our salvation.

Has there ever been a greater reason for rejoicing? And that’s just what happened. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (verse 13, NKJV) What a sound and light show that must’ve been! But the shepherds didn’t stay frozen in fear. No, they got up and hurried off to find the Christ.

That angel chorus wasn’t the only Jesus-welcoming light party. When the wise men sought the Messiah, they were led by God’s magnificent starlight. “And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshipped Him.” (Matthew 2:9-11, HCSB)

Light can lead us to that place of worship. Worship is the exhale as we breathe in His light.

Ever scared of the dark? When we get those dark fears out of the way, we’re free to worship and praise—the perfect response as we encounter the Lord of light.

Fear can be devastatingly powerful. It can rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. And when it arrives, it all but takes over our thoughts. It’s tough to think of anything else when fear makes its way into our gray matter.

In Psalm 27:1, David reminds himself of the God who chases away fear: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear?” (HCSB) Fear may be powerful, but it’s nothing compared to our God.

Bozo? You got nuthin’.

When do your worst fears arise? When they surface, ask God to help you focus on scripture truth about God and His presence, and on Jesus, the One who conquers our fears.

Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, speaker and the author of 12 books, including Espresso Your Faith and the newest, Join the Insanity: Crazy-Fun Life in the Pastors’ Wives Club. Along with her daughters, she hosts the weekly TV show, “That’s My Mom” on Christian Television Network. Rhonda and her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea, have their first co-authored novel releasing in 2014 with the second soon following. She lives in the St. Louis area and is a pastor’s wife and the mother of five practically-out-of-the-house children.

Thursday
Aug152013

Overcoming Fear and Regrets

We all have fears—big and small. Priscilla Jensen’s amazing story (read it here) is a testimony to the grace of God and how she overcame her fear of death.

“Because I was pronounced dead and got a second chance in life,” Jensen said, “I often get the question, ‘How do I overcome fear of death?’”

Maybe you don’t fear death, but there’s an UPGRADE lesson here for all of us as Jensen continues…

Everyone has some type of fear—heights, spiders, failing, speaking—they’re a fact of life, an emotional response to pending danger. 

I had to ask, “Why do some Christians have such a strong fear of death when we know what our eternity holds once we have put our faith in Jesus?” I feared death even after I’ve already experienced death.

Death: no possibility to change anything ... the finality of it all, at least of what I knew and saw.

The fear of death can be explained as the realization of being powerless against the inevitable, while making choices that can exacerbate the inevitable.

Maybe that is why so many people are afraid of death: REGRETS!

Regrets of the unfinished… mistakes… unfulfilled dreams… of anything else. We will never be able to live life having always made the right choice. We will always have regrets. I had tons of regrets. They secretly ate at me.

What would it look like if we didn’t have any regrets?

Is that even the right question? Could we live life with absolutely no regrets? I believe that is the wrong focus. Regrets are essentially always going to be focused on one person… me!

There is a huge difference between regrets and disappointments. Regrets are focused on what we did or didn’t do. Disappointments could be described as a hopeful beginning with an ending that is less than desirable. Regrets focus on us and our decisions. Disappointments focus on the outcome.

Imagine if we flipped that question around. 

What would it look like if the choices we make were all done to bring glory to God? 

We will still have disappointments, but our regrets would be astronomically lower. Why? Because it is no longer about us. Our lives were never about us; we’re not created for our own purposes. This has huge ramifications in every area of our lives.

This paradigm shift completely changed how I view life. Since my life was never about me, then who instilled purpose into my being? God did that. He bestowed His breath of life into me. He formed me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Not created for me, I was created for God Himself. God created me for His glory.

As I went through the process of overcoming fear of death the first years after that dreadful night (believe me, it was a real fear), time and again God, through His Spirit, counseled me regarding the ultimate purpose of why He created me. I was created in His likeness and to bring glory to His Name.

God freed me from the continuous pressure to live up to my own impossible standards,  buried by my regrets. Suddenly, I had a rope thrown down so I could crawl out my self-created pit.

When my focus was no longer targeted on me, a whole new world opened up. I had one task: bring glory to God. I needed to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind. I caught myself being in constant communion with Him.

The fear of death was taken away, because ‘to die is to gain’ (Philippians 1:21). I’m blessed to get a second chance in life—spiritually and physically! My focus is no longer on my death; my focus is on my decisions right now.

Are your thoughts, actions, attitude, relationships and everything else bringing glory to God?

Priscilla Jensen is a motivational and inspirational speaker and writer who was pronounced dead and is now living a daily miracle. She was born and raised in the Netherlands with Asian ancestry, and received her graduate degree in Intercultural Studies from Biola University. After living another 12 years in Europe, she and her husband and teenage son now reside in California, teaching at San Diego Christian College and helping to plant Catalyst Church in downtown San Diego.

 

 

Saturday
Jun292013

Passing on the Dream

Author Karen O'Connor understands the power of legacyof not only passing on great biblical truths, but also the dreams and lessons of life.

In "Winter Dream," Karen wrote:

The afternoon of my tenth birthday my father came home early from work. “Surprise,” he said as he stood outside my classroom door when the school bell rang. “We’re going ice skatingjust you and meto celebrate your birthday. It’s about time you and I used these beautiful skates Mom gave us for Christmas.”

My heart pounded! Just the thought of having my father all to myself for half a day was more than I could take in. And to think we would go ice skating together! I had dreamed of such a day for as long as I could remember. My mother knew about it. That’s why she bought us matching skates.

I waved good-bye to my friends and piled into our old tan car. Off we went to the nearby pond, now frozen hard after a week of sub-freezing temperatures. I wrapped a wool scarf around my neck, pulled my stocking cap over my long brown hair, and donned my mittens. Then hand-in-hand, Dad and I skated across the pond all afternoon. Whenever I hit a bump or felt scared, he was there, stretching out his hand to hold me up and to guide me through the maze of skaters whizzing by.

Over the years I’ve often thought about that day and how my father brought my dream to life!         

I skated many times after that but none meant as much to me as that special day alone with Dad. Then came the time when, Sarah,  one of my granddaughters, invited me to her 10th birthday party. The afternoon would include lunch at a favorite restaurant and unexpectedlyice skating at a local rink.

I said, ‘yes,’ to lunch, but ‘no’ to skating! “I haven’t skated in nearly forty years,” I told Sarah.

For the rest of the week, however, I wrestled with my decision. I knew how much it would mean to her to have me on the ice, not on the sidelines! I decided to surprise herjust as my father had surprised me so long ago.

“Oh Lord,” I prayed, “help me recreate the dream. I want to pass on to Sarah the confidence, the fun, the closeness that my dad gave me.” 

When it was time to skate, I stepped out on the ice, my heart pounding and my legs wobbly. I took a deep breath, then reached for Sarah’s hand. Off we went, and before I knew it I was skating, really skating. My earthly father was no longer there to hold me up, but I was standing tall nonetheless, because I had my heavenly father right there with Sarah and me.

Fear vanished as the truth of God’s promise in Isaiah skipped across my heart.For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Is. 41:13 NRSV). 

I smiled in relief. If the Lord would uphold and honor my simple dreamsice skating with my father and years later, with my granddaughtersurely he would be there, as well, for the big dreams and major challenges ahead. I knew then I had nothing to fear.

What dreams are you passing on to the next generation?

Karen O’Connor is an award-winning author and popular Christian speaker. She lives in Watsonville, California, with her husband, Charles Flowers. This story is based on a selection from her book, Squeeze the Moment (WaterBrook Press, 1999), pp. 54-56. Visit her on the web at karenoconnor.com.

         

         

Thursday
Jun132013

Eight Ways to Respond to Fear

Whether fraught with many fears or only occasionally caught in their grasp, it’s important to know how to respond when fear-causing circumstances arrive.

1. Face your fear. Financial upheavals, government turmoil, wars, natural disasters and the ravages of disease are just a few catalysts to fear; and many Christians suffer for their faith (Hebrews 11:32-38).

God means for us to face all our fears with Him. Jesus said, “… you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).   

2. Find the sting – Paul asks, “O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) The Message translates this, “Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” Because of Christ’s victory over sin and death, the believer can have victory, not fear.

No matter the “sting” of difficult circumstances, there is comfort in the midst of pain, hope in the midst of devastation and more. Define the sting, and discover the antidote in Christ.

3. Feel the pain – Sometimes emotions run deep. Read the Psalms and discover man’s gamut of emotions, including fear.

Rather than running from emotions, give yourself permission to feel them so you can deal with them. Don’t hide, shut down or reject the truth of what’s happening. Behind many fears is the reality or perception of loss. Don’t get morbid, but acknowledge what loss feels like and choose to grieve well.

4. Free your mind – In the movie After Earth, the character played by Will Smith says, “Fear … is a product of thoughts you create. … Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” It’s true. We cannot escape the feeling of fear when it comes, but we choose what we do next.

We can counter the enemy’s lies. Jesus says to his abiding disciples, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). God wants to renew and transform our thoughts (Romans 12:2). He desires to give us a spirit of power, love, and a calm, well-balanced mind of discipline and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

5. Frame your responses – My dad encouraged me to think through my fears, asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” He helped me examine my choices.

When fear comes, consider your options. Create a “how to” notebook as a resource of helpful information. Make a list of crisis steps.  Imagine acting with wisdom, courage and obedience, no matter what comes—like Daniel (6:7-22) and Esther (3:5-6; 4:1-16).

6. Feed your faith – The person who is armed with biblical resources is better prepared to face fears.

Feed your faith by memorizing and meditating on scripture and developing intimacy with God in prayer. Find mentors who have walked through trials with courage. Create a blessings journal and review God's faithfulness (Psalm 89:8; 115:1; Lamentations 3:22-23). Remembering how God’s presence got you through past trials will encourage you in today’s struggles (Psalm 91:3-6; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

7. Flourish in Friendships - Don’t go it alone. The Body of Christ is meant to come alongside with encouragement and comfort, and can do so because of the Comforter (the Helper) within (John 14:16, 26; 2 Corinthians 1:4). Reach out. Be transparent. Accept help.

8. Focus on praise – Be like Joseph (Genesis 50:20) and Job (Job 1:1; 19:25). Practice God-confidence and worship now, so it will be second-nature when tough times come.

What is your most powerful BIBLICAL response to fear?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com and also blogs at LOLwithGod.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and a rascally maltipoo named Roscoe.

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