Archives for category: Doubt

OXYGEN Volume 24Who am I?  What am I to do with my life?  What do others think of me?  What activities should I pursue?  These are all questions that everyone has faced at one time or another in their lives.  People, it seems, are always on a quest to “find themselves” The current trend is to have something to fight for or against; to be most noticed and to stand loud, strong, and proud.  It’s all about being “noticed” either in a relationship, career, or public policy.  What is  most interesting is the enormous amounts of time, energy, and monies all to seek answers to questions that are, at their heart, very simple.

As Christians, our identity should be singular.  It’s not a hard answer because our being, worth, and purpose should be surrounded by those marks of discipleship and servanthood that Christ laid out for us.  It is a quiet and simple answer.  Not one that will sell millions of books, get rave reviews, raise you to the top of the corporate ladder, or gain you a ton of friends and political posh.  It’s not some gregarious act that leads to the masses following you.  Really, outside of a few, rare, high profile people, the masses are just common, ordinary,  unsung heroes operating in the quiet, obedient steps of Jesus.

One of the biggest problems Christians, and non Christians alike, face is that comparison often leads to compromise.  We want to be just like so and so, but that isn’t the life God has for us. However, we fight, claw, kick, and scream to keep reaching for a brass ring that doesn’t fit and doesn’t belong to a Christ One.  The world wants us to be just like them and fight for identity in sex, gender, status, wealth,  etc..  Christ says “My Grace is Sufficient for You.”

How do we know that statement to be true?  Well, let’s look to the life of a very quiet, unsung hero of Faith named Andrew.  He was never a big front runner in the group of Jesus’ followers.  He didn’t make big public speaches before the masses, like Peter or Paul.  He just quietly, and simply, was about the work of Jesus and reaching others with the saving message of Jesus.  You might just say Andrew was a “nobody”.  However, when you look deeper you will see this “nobody” was behind the “somebodies” coming to faith.  Because Andrew was in relationship with God’s word, He knew Jesus.  Andrew was in relationship, one on one face time, with others, he could share Jesus with those he knew and loved.  Andrew was a trend setting, trailblazer of his time.  As often happens with trailblazers they don’t get the glory but you do see the fruits of their efforts.  We can see all of this in John 1:29-42:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. NIV

We can learn much from Andrew and his quiet way of evangelism and witness.  Andrew knew who he was and why he was here.  He was a child of God called to bear witness to the Son, Jesus Christ.  He had a desire to share God.  To reach someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the World, we have to know Jesus and be in relationship with Him.  We have to have a heart that is real, sincere, and filled with desire to see the lost come to faith.  We need to really know people.  That means inter personal relationship time.  It’s not a text message, email, facebook, twitter, or instagram thing.  If we aren’t genuine in our care and approach, we can’t reach anyone.

Another part of knowing Jesus and others is to be in prayer and communication.   On our own, we will never reach a lost soul but in prayer we ask for God’s guidance and wisdom and then in our relationship we communicate our story.  What story?  The simply story, when the moment is right, of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will continue to do for you in this life.  Where your life used to be and where it is now.  How God’s word helps you through the trials and tribulations of this life.  These are easy stories to tell because you know them because they are you.

Andrew, this quiet fisherman of fish turned to a fisher of man, who reached out and shared Jesus so his brother Peter could be saved.  Peter went on to reach thousands but because his brother knew the right answer – Jesus- and shared, Peter became a Christ Follower.  The world might see Andrew as a “nobody” but he was a valuable soul to reach more souls.  Andrew knew who he was and why he was here.  He was a child of God called to bear witness to the Son, Jesus Christ.  He had a desire to share God. You might feel like a “nobody” but Jesus says you are “somebody!”  The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, says “I died for you!”  There is no greater identity or purpose than to be a quiet, humble, servant of Jesus Christ to reach others so that they too can know their sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.  Go out into the world as an Andrew and rejoice in the only identity that matters – a Child of Christ!

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Alfred E Neuman was known for the phrase “What Me, Worry?”  If you don’t know about Alfred, you might want to look him up for a blast from the past.  He might have said this phrase but if you know the history of this comic, fear and worry and obstacles were a big part of his life.   There is nothing different from our real, non-comedic lives.  So, let’s take a spinoff from Alfred and ask “What is it that gives you anxiety, fear, and/or worry?”  Why do we struggle so much, even as followers of Christ?  Where can and do I go when fear sets in?  What does the Bible have to say about fear?

To tackle the first two questions we need to understand that fear and worry is very personal and it varies.  Some people seem to be calm, cool, and collected in times of trials and others seem to fall apart and are consumed with what seems to be just simple, ordinary tasks.  What might not worry one person can just rock the foundations of another.  Often times, in our situational anxieties, we seek out people to help console us and many times that backfires.

In our sinful humanness fear starts kicking in because we look at our situation/s expecting all of God’s promises to be fulfilled right now and when our expectations don’t meet up with God’s action we start to worry and fear and mistrust.  We are looking for the invisible with only human eyesight.  In our quest to have the answer to “Where can and do I go when fear sets in”  We often times go seeking a human answer to something only faith can do.  This is where our faith comes in to practice.  As C S Lewis said in A Grief Observed “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”   Faith is believing in God’s full promises when we can’t see or feel them.

In our times of fear and doubt we cling to the rope of faith as we hang off the precipice and life dangles us.  As much as we seek people to comfort us, it so often times ends up backfiring with one simple sentence. The phrase “Don’t Worry” is like a sledge hammer crashing down on you.  We have all been guilty of trying to pacify someone, or our own uneasiness about a situation, and we throw out a cliché response.  Trust me, these have all visited my home,  when you offer false hopes or easy answers to someone in a crisis situation like  cancer, divorce, and death, the “Don’t Worry it will be ok” phrase is just adding to the fear and worry.  Instead of balm for the soul and mind it’s like dousing a fire with gasoline.

The balm we must offer to ourselves and to others is God’s Word.  God’s Word is the only answer that fits our first question as well as all of our others questions. There are said to be 365 pieces of scripture to help us combat our fears and frustrations.  The verses cover the things in our lives that just seem impossible.  If we look at our scripture text we see God being with Abraham in a time of fear. God always meets fear in scripture with words of comfort and peace.  After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. -Genesis 15:1-6    God stepped out and gave comfort and reassurance to Abraham that though he did not see the answer yet, the answer was still there.

You see, our God is the only God of the Impossible.  He sent His only Son to buy us back from sin, Satan, and ourselves. Paying the impossible debt that we cannot ever pay.

He hands to us the Incredible.  There is nothing more incredible and powerful than the Holy Spirit sent to each of God’s children to give them the power to understand God’s Word and empower us to fight and ward off fear.  Other gods rule by fear but not the Triune God.  He wants us to fear/respect/have awe of Him.  When we truly grasp the Holiness of God and how sinful we are there should be a healthy fear but He assures us that He alone is with us.  Our God is the only god who dies for His people.  That is more than Incredible.

So the next time fear knocks, and it will knock, let Faith answer the door instead of human frailty and reasoning.  Put on the full armour of God and let the Holy Spirit fill to you with God’s Word and cling to the rope of faith.  Stay connected to worship, prayer, and Bible study so you can be strengthened and seek out caring Christian friends who will encourage you with God’s love and Word when you don’t have the strength to fight.

All Powerful Lord, in these uncertain days, strengthen Your peoples’ faith to Trust You in the impossible, to be our invincible, incredible power to fight all fear.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

To help you in your journey, here are seven verses to look up, memorize, and cling to.

Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 56:3, Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 43:1, and Psalm 23:4.

In our current culture, it isn’t to hard to find what we would deem the “big sins.”  We see and  hear about murder almost daily.  We see lying, cheating, and just down right ugliness on most nearly all headlines.  We are a culture growing to mistrust and hate everything around us and then we lash out in the most ugly of ways – you know those “big sins.”

fearWe get so wrapped up in the “dramas” of each day that one of two things tends to happen.  We either join in the “drama pool” or we bury our heads in the sand, circle the wagons, and sing “kumbayah” pretending like nothing is wrong.  Both of these are relying on human ways to conquer the issues of the world and our own lives.  In all reality, we are falling victim to the very, very subtle sins of “unbelief and doubt.”

We don’t like to admit it but we make God out to be a hamstrung god who can only do what our minds can think or imagine.  We put God in a box of humanness, logic, and limited power.  We walk around thinking that God might fix that issue but “will He fix it or help me fix my BIG problem?”  It’s easy to forget God’s promises as we wait, move, and trudge through the mountainous times in our lives.  We start focusing on the summit of the problem and doubt the One who created the highest earthly mountains.  We focus on the pain and hurt around us and forget that Christ suffered the mountain of death, defeated Satan, and rose to bring us new life.  Those are no small hills, folks!

We live in a world where struggle and pain and disappointment just aren’t acceptable. We just want pleasure and fun.  Sometimes, God allows or puts enormous obstacles in our way so we have to trust Him and rely fully on Him!  In the struggles and pains and desert times we are taught much more than when life just goes along happy, happy, joy, joy.  Happy, happy tends to make us think “we’ve got this.”  But pain, agony, difficulties, disease, death, and destruction well, these make us stop and evaluate Who can handle this?  In our faith we either start down the path of unbelief or we turn down the road to “Illogical Obedience” Following God when it makes no human sense.

In the worldly view, the entire walk of Faith in Christ is illogical.  But as Christians, we know that nothing is impossible with God!  We have a track record, over 4,000 years old, that proves our God looks at impossible and laughs.  As we walk down the Biblical Memory Lane, we see that God takes and uses all the impossible people, places, and things and makes STUFF HAPPEN!

In our verses from Genesis, we see “Illogical Obedience” in action.  And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on – since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:1-14

Sarah doubted God and laughingly mocked at His words.  We might throw stones at her but we do the same thing when we go it on our own because we are tired of waiting on God or believe that He can’t or won’t come through for us in our times of distress.  We know from looking at Abraham and Sarah that when they started doubting God, they started making huge messes.  God allowed the messes and obstacles to happen.  They felt the pain of “their way” and the world still feels the pain of that mess.  The best part of it is, that God didn’t stop His Impossible Plan.

There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind, that knew Abraham and Sarah, that only God could make these two, in their geriatric ward days, become biological parents.  In them becoming parents, God kept His promise and showed His mighty power.  God took the young boy, David, and David’s Illogical Obedience, and slayed the Giant Goliath.  Not in mighty conflict, with brazen weapons, and mass metal armour, but with a simple sling shot and a stone. Again, God showing His Impossible Plan and Power.  The list goes on and on and is recorded in the Bible so that we know where to go to find God’s Plan and Will and Power.  We are never going to find it on our own, in worldly powers and governments, and we will never know the full power of God until we know His Word and it is in our DNA and is our DNA.

So, How Big is God?  Bigger than anything you can dream, think, or work toward.  Our God is so big that He defeated the biggest problem and issue of any day, SIN.  Jesus looked Satan in the eye and beat him forever, not with anything man could do but with His sacrificial blood on the cross, and rose and said I AM the way of the IMPOSSIBLE.  Even in these days of chaos, God still makes it possible for us to live and move and have our being because the Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk on the road of Illogical Obedience and follow in the footsteps of Christ.  So drop the hat of unbelief, take off the armour of doubt and disobedience, and put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the clothes of Christ and march on as soldiers of the Cross and carry the banner into the world and show them that with God, All things are Possible!

Lord God, turn our laughing and mocking of You, into pure faith and belief, that You can do anything in the world and in our own lives.  Help Your children in Your Church to believe Your promises, power, and passion to do the Impossible.  You have never been bound by human reason or worldly things.  You are limitless!  Cure the unbelief in Your Church and Your People by returning them into the Banner Barriers of Your Holy Word. Make Your Word our desire to become our DNA for You.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.