Fear Not

1 John 4:18

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.

Hebrews 13:6

So, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

2 Timothy 1:7

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Ever notice throughout the Bible whenever angels appeared before humans, their first words are a strong command not to be afraid. Or when Jesus spoke with His disciples or someone approached him, he would reiterate “fear not” and then explain why.

Fear is a strong emotional spirit that is wired in us to protect us from potential harm. Those of us who have a strong creative imagination probably are more challenged to keep fear to a healthy manageable display, but everyone of us deals with the matter throughout our lives. Yet there are those who better manage the response of fear than others.

I have worked for business owners whose level of monetary risk was substantially greater than mine. As one explained to me, after you lost a few million, gone through bankruptcy, and still survive, your level of risk tolerance grows. The same is true of whatever we may fear. The more we face our fear and survive, the stronger we become.

Jesus would often imperatively command his listeners not to be afraid. The reason: because God cares for you and will help you walk through the ordeal. He would point to God as the one we should fear because he can destroy both body and soul; whereas people can only kill the body. In other places, HE chastises doubt away, and points toward God as the solution to overcome fear and anxiety.

Elsewhere in Scripture, the apostle Paul and John and the writer of Hebrews likewise poo-poo fear away by reminding us that God has given us through HIS Spirit the power and love and self-control to debunk the fear in our lives.

John highlights that God’s love is greater than any fear. As we allow HIS presence to live in us and transform us, we slowly see the fear dissipate from our lives. As we come to know HIM more and more each day, we become witnesses of HIS power to work in our life and the life of others.

The intensity of the fears we face each day are correlated with the presence of God in our life. As HE becomes more and more central in our life, the relationship grows and HIS attributes and worldview begin to dominate in our world. Whatever problem we see or ordeal we are living through is soon recognized as only a hiccup in HIS path.

Fear is a very powerful emotion God gave us to protect us from danger. Yet fear, unless bridled can cause greater harm than the trigger point of fear itself. Like all emotions, fear needs to be managed properly under the circumstances one finds themselves. The beginning of a healthy system to manage fear is with God who created the emotion for our protection. When HE becomes the central core of our emotions, the challenge and response become more controlled, healthy, and productive. So, fear not, and let God be your guide.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Fear of God

Romans 3:13-18

“Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 in their paths are ruin and misery,
 and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

What ever happened to good-old-fashion fear of the Lord? Maybe it’s only me, but in our youthful ignorance when we had a simple but respectful attitude toward our Creator, wasn’t life more peaceful and civil?

Today, people seem to have greater fear of being fired from their job, or cancelled by the internet crowd, or being discovered of who they truly are, then fearing the Author & Designer of Life. We witness daily through the media and political rhetoric how fear is used as the tool of those in power to manipulate their subjects into following them into the promise land. We seem to fear everything and everyone except the one who deserves the most respect and honor of all: Our LORD.

When the fear of God is preached in some pulpits, they highlight the wrath of God. Yes, for those who do not know God, his power and authority is intimidating. When we do not know someone in an unfriendly situation, fear normally takes the lead. Yet under the same circumstances when we do know the heart and character of the person facing us, we have no fear. The same is true with our LORD.

If you were raised in a house with a father who physically or emotionally abused you, you would learn to distrust and even hate him for the pain he put you through. Yet on the other hand, if your dad loved and played and taught you valuable lessons throughout your growing years, you would learn to respect and honor him. The same is true with our heavenly Father.

The healthy fear the Bible reveals about our relationship with our God is a respectful awe. As we come to know HIM, his character and his heart, we realize there is nothing to fear but our own carnal imagination gone wild. He is a God of love and justice. He knows how to discipline us for our good, not from personal anger but from a heart of knowing what is best for us. He also knows how to best bless us with HIS gifts.

As we live in HIS presence each day, we gladly invite him into our life as he has invited us into HIS. We kneel in amazement at HIS wisdom, HIS love for everyone, and HIS uncanny ways of intervening for HIS children.

Yes, my fear of God is knowing HE is all powerful and HIS word has final authority in all matters. Yet my fear is balanced by also knowing HIS character and heart.

If only all people would come to know HIM and live in HIS presence each day. We wouldn’t need thousands of laws, more police, judges, and jails. Some may call it a utopia. For humans to make happen it is an unrealistic dream, but for God who changes the hearts of people, there will be a time in the world tomorrow when heaven and earth are merged together into the final chapter, then all people everywhere will experience the joy and love of living in the fear of our God. Until then, we who experience God’s grace every day, can only share HIS way of life with others and pray they have the courage to reach out to the God who truly cares for you and me.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Some Church History

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

When I read this Scripture, I find comfort knowing God’s Church will outlast hell. Yet there are people who emphasize this Scripture as Peter being the first leader of the Catholic Church. Good for them. But what does history record?

Everyone agrees that the Christian faith began in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit made his public entrance into the known world. Even Peter stood up at the time and preached the first sermon where the Holy Spirit converted over three thousand people. Yet later during the first recorded church convention of the early Church, the Book of Acts highlights James as the local church administrator leading that first meeting.

Early church history records the five largest and most influential churches were based in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople, and Alexandria. Each church was led by their own bishop without accountability to a higher human authority. It wasn’t until around the 300-350 period when King Charlemagne based in Rome made the Christian religion the national faith. With his assistance, the church in Rome then took on a more political stance and grew from the experience.

Meanwhile, the churches in the other major cities continued with disagreements on certain faith issues. Though they all held similar basic fundamental beliefs which was outlined in the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D., they also had their differences. For example, the church in Jerusalem still had many people who observed the seventh day Sabbath and kept the Jewish holy days. The church in Alexandria eventually became the hub of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Antioch was where Believers were first called Christian and the influence of the Greek gentile culture challenged those from Jerusalem.

History and the Bible prove that Peter was the original leader of the twelve apostles. And each apostle traveled to major parts of the known world preaching the good news of Jesus Christ including Peter. The early Church didn’t have an institutional hierarchy in mind. Instead, it was a loosely organized movement inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The structure and political influence came later after the richer faith communities settled down and began integrating into the local city life. Like all movements, vested interest came together and people settled into daily routines.    

Yet the Church after two thousand years still remains. Still active, still expounding the truth, and still showing the light of Jesus through the many souls who have tasted and feasted upon the love of God. And as the enemy has constantly attacked to destroy the Church and repeatedly failed, we have Jesus’ promise that the Church will survive to the end.

Thank you, Lord, for directing your Body of Believers for the work you have us do.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Discipline Yourself

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The Holy Spirit shares HIS character with us which includes self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). He provides us with the added resources and support to live the good life. However, we still have to make the choice. Yet how often do we waiver between two opposing options? We know what is the right thing to do but yet our carnal desire seeks the opposite. 

Paul compares the Christian walk to an Olympic event. The Christ-follower is like the athlete being trained to win a race or a boxing match. If you have ever played sports, you know the preliminary practice and training required to prepare the body and mind for actual competition. The Christian life is no different.

One of the life long battles with the self is disciplining the body to pursue godly attitudes and behavior. In our current culture overran with luxury and pampering, many of us are out of shape to enter any type of Olympic event. This is nothing new under the sun. The way our forefathers managed this process is through “the disciplines of grace” as Richard Foster describes in his book “Celebration of Discipline.”   

The disciplines he describes are simple exercises we intentionally put ourselves through for the long-term outcome of subduing the body into subjection of God’s grace. We train ourselves to yield our desires for a more eternal outcome.

For example, I love to eat. And of course, the foods I desire are typically high in calorie, sugar, and other ingredients which in moderation would be OK but in the hands of an addictive personality, very dangerous. To overcome and better manage the urge of gluttony, I turn to the discipline of fasting. Fasting is an old-time tradition that Jesus and his disciples spoke about as the Bible has much to say about its merit. Yet when practiced on a regular basis, science has demonstrated its effectiveness for physical health, and the Bible has shown its importance for spiritual nourishment.

Other disciplines include worship, giving, celebrating, silence, and at least another dozen that one can choose from to better help in managing the carnal desires of the body. The way to choose which discipline one practices most often is to understand one’s character defaults. For example, if friends and family members point out that you may over talk at events, then maybe one could better control the tongue by practicing the discipline of silence. Another example is if one finds it hard to donate money to others without any strings attached, then maybe the discipline of giving would help balance out the selfish heart.

There are many others options to choose from. The point is to make the intentional decision to practice the discipline one needs to better shape the character within you. For life has a way we either discipline ourselves or life will hit us from the outside with such a punch that we may find ourselves the victim of a knockout. I for one would rather be prepared for the unexpected.

The disciplines of grace help me better manage myself through the obstacle’s life throws us each and every day. I am sure you will find like many others who practice these disciplines they would also make a positive difference in your life. Take time this week to investigate. You may be pleasantly surprise in the difference they will make in your life.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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Renewal

Titus 3:5

…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Yes, when you allow the Holy Spirit full access into your inner chamber of your thoughts, values, and possessions, only then real transparent, quality living begins.

And this new you being morphed isn’t because you earned more bonus karma points with all the good actions you have performed through life, but simply because our Triune God loves you and me.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord, HE introduces us to Father God and Holy Spirit. As we accept HIS authority in our daily life, all Three move into your inner neighborhood. The weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:16-17) is God living in you and me. 

I remember a time in my early twenties when I found myself exercising patience. Though at that time the naturally inclination was to be overly active and wait for no one, but this time I found myself at peace and contented. Totally out of character. This was the first time I realize God was creating something new in me that wasn’t there before.

Over time, the fruit of HIS SPIRIT became more and more naturally inclusive within my everyday life. I didn’t’ discipline myself to behave this way. It wasn’t my prime focus. But slowly over time, God’s presence in my life became more and more visible through the actions being expressed with the people and situation I found myself around.

As I invested more time with other brothers and sisters in the Lord, they also shared their experiences which mimic mine. God is creating a new human which Jesus Christ was the first fruit. He paved the way and equips us with the same Spirit. He continues to share truths of life and more importantly the reassurance of HIS Father’s love for us.

As Christ-followers, we are HIS students. The work being performed within us isn’t for our glory, but God’s. We are being renewed for the opportunity to do good work now for His Kingdom by serving others as He also prepares us for greater work in the world tomorrow.    

We marvel at the work the Holy Spirit conducts in the lives of people. While many of us delusionally pat our own backs as if we are the cause of the change, HE continues to shape, counsel, and comfort us through the daily routine of life. Over time though, most likely when we are older and look back, we have to admit most of life’s best changes came about without our direct influence – God in HIS loving way keeps birthing HIS character into our inner chambers.

Thank you, Father-Son-Spirit; continue your work in us, and help us to continue doing good work serving others for your glory and Kingdom.

   

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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God Seekers

Hebrews 11:6

…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Psalm 10:4

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Deuteronomy 4:29

But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Simply stated – sometimes I wonder if life’s prime purpose is nothing more but to discover and walk with the God of the universe. The same God who created heaven and earth (Gen 1:1). The One who worked with Moses, David, and the prophets from the Old Testament along with all the saints in the New Testament. The God who from the foundation of the world created everything with a specific goal. Could that goal simply be to enjoy a benevolent relationship with HIM and each other?

Life has the tenancy to involve us in many different activities. Just the act of survival in many third world countries is an all-day affair. In more developed nations, the routine job of living has become more automatic and convenient allowing us to pursue avenues of perceived self-fulfillment. Yet at the end of our lives, what do we have to show?

The rich continue to become richer building up storage barns for their wealth. In comparison, the poor struggle for just the basic necessities of life. Yet both will leave everything behind when life’s curtain closes. So why bother start a race if you know how it will end?

If eternity doesn’t exist, and this life is it, then why bother doing anything for the simple pleasure of feeling happy for a few moments? If this is one’s perspective, then yes life is meaningless and empty and void of any reason for doing anything. BUT what if eternity is real?

What if the Biblical narrative is true? What if Jesus Christ is the Messiah promised thousands of years ago? Then would there be a reason to live with purpose and meaning greater than ours?

I strongly believe God created everything for you and I to enjoy life now and into eternity with HIM. That assurance has become stronger and stronger each day as we pursue our dreams and fight our daily battles. As we seek HIM, HE draws closer to us with HIS thoughts. As HE becomes known to us, we begin to witness HIS involvement with everyday life. As HE answers our prayers, we become struck in awe as how HE works out circumstances and changes hearts to fulfill our desires. And when we fail to live up to HIS righteousness, HE reminds us of HIS love for us and that we are already included in HIS family.

This walk of faith started in my late teen years when I surrendered to HIM without even knowing WHO HE IS. I started to seek HIM and have kept wanting to know more and more about HIM. I discovered more about HIS character and heart through the daily actions of living and studying in HIS world. Math, science, and history open the doors to reveal more of HIS ways. Love, Joy, and fatherhood are moments that reveal more of HIS brilliant mind. The gospel of Jesus Christ solidified HIS superior insight into how human nature is best unleashed for the benefit of all mankind.

Yes, one must be a God Seeker if one wants to experience life the way HE intended us to be. When we make HIM the central core of all other relationships and objectives, life gains real meaning and purpose. When one begins to understand HIS ways and implement those means into their very steps, real freedom and flourishment is experienced by the self and others. The more amazing thing though, is we have only seen a small fraction of WHO HE IS. It will take eternity to discover and learn how the most successful BEING in the universe thinks, works, and plays. And I for one look forward to each day now and the hereafter toward that realization.

What about you?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I (Paul) preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me…

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-26 (ESV)

There are times the Scripture needs no further explanation. Chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians known as the Resurrection chapter is such a powerful and logical argument for the basis of our belief, what more can I add. Paul hits a home-run with his persuasive points. If Christ wasn’t resurrected, then our faith is in vain. But based on the eye witnesses of over 500 people, the majority probably still alive when Paul wrote this letter to the Church, who witnessed Jesus alive after his crucifixion – a jury trial would easily reach the same conclusion.

And Paul goes one step further in acknowledging Jesus Christ as the first human morphed into a spiritual being, and eventually you and I will join him when HE returns to fully establish and deliver HIS Kingdom to GOD the Father after destroying every rule, power, and authority under Satan’s spell.   

The same power of God which confirmed that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord, is also the same power at work sanctifying you and I.  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the basis of yours and mine faith. You either believe and live it out looking forward to a new heavenly life or you deny and slowly decay into oblivion. A 21st century, five-star, award winning Sci-Fi movie couldn’t be written any better. The difference though, this is real life.

Enjoy this Easter season as your reminder that Jesus lives and plans to return for the finale. Until his physical presence is seen again, HE lives in you and I through the Holy Spirit which is transforming us from the inside-out into HIS image. Some days I shake my head as if I am living a dream. Yet the fruit and transformation over the years in my life and others is our statement to the world. HE LIVES.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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