‘Tis I, Be Not Afraid

Tossed with rough winds, and faint with fear, 
Above the tempest, soft and clear, 
What still small accents greet mine ear?
“‘Tis I; be not afraid.”

“‘Tis I who led thy steps aright; 
‘Tis I who gave thy blind eyes sight; 
‘Tis I, thy Lord, thy Life, thy Light. 
‘Tis I; be not afraid.

“This bitter cup fear not to drink; 
I know it well—oh! do not shrink; 
I tasted it o’er Kedron’s brink. 
‘Tis I; be not afraid. 

“Mine eyes are watching by thy bed, 
Mine arms are underneath thy head, 
My blessing is around thee shed. 
‘Tis I; be not afraid.“

When on the other side thy feet 
Shall rest ‘mid thousands welcomes sweet, 
One well known voice thy heart shall greet. 
“‘Tis I; be not afraid.”

From out the dazzling majesty 
Gently He’ll lay His hands on thee, 
Whispering: “Beloved, lov’st thou Me? 
It was not in vain I died for thee,
‘Tis I; be not afraid.” —Anonymous

Selah

The word Selah appears nearly 70 times in the Bible, almost exclusively in the Psalms. Although it is primarily a musical term, it applies beautifully to our summer series. 

Selah can mean…

  • a pause from the noise to reflect;
  • a preparation for an exciting accent; or 
  • a reflective time of consideration

Throughout the Psalms, Selah appears at the end of a verse, at the end of the psalm, or sometimes even mid-sentence. But each one of them is perfectly placed by the Spirit-inspired authors to get us to take a breath and deeply contemplate what we just read or sang. 

Summertime is typically a time for us to pause from our regular routine. Perhaps it’s a vacation, time with friends and family, driving around with the windows down and the music blasting, or just a quiet walk through woods or along a beach. In any case, whether we realize it or not, we’re actually doing Selah in these break-from-the-routine activities. 

Join me this Sunday as we continue our summertime look at each of the Psalms that ask us to Selah. I think you will find that this Sunday summertime pause will be both refreshing and encouraging. You can join me either in person or on Facebook Live. 

If you would like to check out messages from last summer’s Selah series, please click here. And the messages for this year are:

Coronavirus And Christ (book review)

Coronavirus And Christ is a quintessential example of how the Bible’s message is applicable to any situation we face. This book could have been written as “The Bubonic Plague And Christ” or “The Great War And Christ” or even “The Spanish Flu And Christ” and the message would have been the same. 

John Piper himself states, “What John Piper has to say on this topic isn’t nearly as important as what God has to say on this topic.” God’s Word is timeless, always applicable, and always authoritative. Coronavirus And Christ is steeped in biblical principles. 

The first half of this book reminds us of God’s sovereignty even in times that we may see as unexpected or chaotic. Pastor John writes, “The secret of ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ [2 Corinthians 6:10] is this: knowing that the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it. Indeed, more than sustains—sweetens. Sweetens with hope that God’s purposes are kind, even in death—for those who trust Him.” 

In the second half of this book, Pastor John elaborates on six possible answers to the question, “What is God doing through the coronavirus?” I am confident that you will be encouraged to see how God is in control of events that seem out of our hands. 

Coronavirus And Christ is a short book, but one that will arm you with faith-building insights that will help you throughout not just this time, but any others that will inevitably come along. Desiring God has made the ebook version of this book available for free (click here to access the link). 

Proper Correction

…to the church of the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:1). 

This short letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica is a masterpiece on how to correctly correct fellow Christian brothers and sisters. 

The entire letter follows this pattern: 3 Cs surrounded by prayer—

  1. Compliment
  2. Prayer
  3. Clarify
  4. Prayer
  5. Correct
  6. Prayer

(And then repeat, if necessary.) 

Compliment and encouragement—“We are bound to thank God always for you…because your faith grows exceedingly” (1:3). Paul complimented their love for each other, their patience and endurance in persecution, and their future glorification. He encouraged them that Jesus IS coming, and He will deal with their persecutors and take the righteous into glory with Him (1:3-10). 

Prayer—And then he prays for them to be equipped to endure to the end and finish well (1:11-12). 

Clarify misunderstandings—“Let no one deceive you by any means” (2:3). Paul reminds them of what he taught them about the end times and the Second Coming of Christ, clarifying that watchful Christians will by no means miss out on the signs (2:1-12). 

Prayer—Paul again praises their acceptance of the gospel and launches into another prayer for them to finish well (2:13-3:5). 

Correct errors of understanding—“But we command you” (3:6). There were those who were departing from the faith, growing slack in their work ethic, being disorderly, and meddling as busybodies. Paul said, “We command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ” that you knock it off! He even told the church to “not keep company” with such people (3:6-15). 

Prayer—Finally, Paul closes with a prayer for God’s peace to be with his brothers and sisters (3:16-18). 

This is such a masterful pattern for all of us in church ministry to follow! 

If you are in a leadership role, I hope your ongoing prayer would be the same as mine: “Holy Spirit, in all my interactions with my fellow saints, remind me of this godly, practical plan for confrontation, and help me to live it out for God’s glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.” 

Friendship Is…

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” —C.S. Lewis 

Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” —Thomas Jefferson 

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” —Aristotle 

Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.” —Eugene Peterson 

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Emerson 

“If the first law of friendship is that it has to be cultivated, the second law is to be indulgent when the first has been neglected.” —Voltaire

Friendship is agreement with kindliness and affection about things human and divine.” —Cicero 

“The light of friendship is seen plainest when all around is dark.” —Grace Noll Crowell 

“For spiritual friendship, which is what we mean by true friendship, should be desired not with a view to any worldly good, nor for any reason extrinsic to itself, but from the worthiness of its own nature, and the feeling of the human heart, so that it offers no advantage or reward other than itself. … For in this true friendship one makes progress by bettering oneself, and one bears fruit by experiencing the enjoyment of this increasing degree of perfection. And so spiritual friendship is born among good people through the similarity of their characters, goals, and habits in life.” —Aelred of Rievaulx 

“The quickest way to initiate friendship is to give people freedom to be themselves.” —Andy Braner

7 More Quotes From “Start With The Heart”

Dr. Kathy Koch has given parents—and anyone else who works with children—a marvelously helpful resource in her latest book Start With The Heart. Be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“God created you and your children with five core, basic needs that must be met. These needs are interrelated. The health of one influences the others:

  • Security—who can I trust?
  • Identity—who am I?
  • Belonging—who wants me?
  • Purpose—why am I alive?
  • Competence—what do I do well?” 

“Children who know their purpose will often choose to look for peers with similar goals and interests. They will want to hang out with people who affirm them and their purpose and be willing to end relationships that are not joyful and purposeful.” 

“When you parent so your children believe three things, their hearts will be impacted and they will be motivated to succeed. This translates into less stress and anxiety and more peace. … Children who believe these things don’t want to be average. They are willing to work for more. … Children’s character will be more Christlike. They’ll want to be more others-centered than self-centered. They’ll be compassionate, brave and able to stand up for themselves and others. 

  1. I have value. Children who do know they have value are often motivated intrinsically, from the inside. They internally recognize what is good for them and respond accordingly.
  2. Learning matters. When children believe they have worth, they are more likely to value learning. … Children who value learning will exhibit many positive character traits, including teachability. This will be true even when they are not convinced that your requests or planned activities are relevant. They’ll pay attention anyway because they know they matter and learning matters. These beliefs strengthen children’s purpose and give rise to competence.
  3. My future can be bright.” 

“Which is better: ‘Be on time!’ or ‘Don’t be late!’? Do you hear the difference? Which one is positive? ‘Be on time’ communicates ‘I believe you’re capable of this.’ It’s more hopeful. It’s about what you want your children to do. ‘Don’t be late’ reminds them of how they’ve frustrated you.” 

“Carol Dweck…has consistently found that children praised for using effort tackled more challenging tasks than those praised just for ability or for the quality of their work.” 

“Sometimes have children tell you what they think they did before you offer your opinions. If they are relatively accurate, affirm them specifically. When they’re not, have the conversation.” 

“Working to provide feedback that can be described with the following attributes will serve you and your children well—specific, believable, helpful, and thoughtful.” 

You can also check out the first set of quotes I shared from Start With The Heart by clicking here.

9 Quotes From “40 Days With Jesus”

Sarah Young does a masterful job in helping us hear Jesus speak to us in the first-person, as she weaves Scripture together so beautifully. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Taste and see that I am good. The more intimately you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.” 

“Follow Me one step at a time. … Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you. … I set the pace in keeping with your needs and My purposes.” 

“Walking in the light of My presence blesses you in many ways. Good things are better and bad things are more bearable when you share them with Me. As you bask in My Love-Light, you are better able to love others and enjoy fellowship with them. You are less likely to stumble or fall because sins are garishly obvious in My holy Light. As you walk in this Light with Me, I encourage you to exult in My righteousness.” 

“Although your new self is being conformed to My image, this process does not erase the essence of who you are. On the contrary, the more you become like Me, the more you develop into the unique person I designed you to be.” 

“Holiness is letting Me live through you. Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy. Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you. Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living. I want to inhabit all your moments—gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior.” 

“Talk with Me about every aspect of your day, including your feelings. Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day.” 

“Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment.” 

“Exceeding Joy is for both you and Me. I delight in you now, but this Joy will be astronomically magnified when you join Me in Glory. The Joy you will experience in heaven is so far beyond anything you have known on earth that it is indescribable. Nothing can rob you of this glorious inheritance which is imperishable and will not fade away.” 

“Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with Me.” 

A Very Present Help

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

God is not just present—He is very present! 

God is not merely in the room with you, He is fully attentive to you. He’s never distracted, preoccupied, or disinterested. 

Regardless of the quaking or roaring around you, He is so very present that He knows your quietest sigh. You don’t have to look anywhere else for help because He is VERY present at this VERY moment. 

The rest of this psalm reiterates this promise:

  • God is in the midst
  • God will help
  • The Lord of hosts is with us
  • God is our stronghold 

God Himself speaks the words of the natural conclusion we should draw when we realize that He is VERY present at this VERY moment—

“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Hope In The Storm

And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship … they all escaped safely to land (Acts 27:37, 44). 

Paul knew he would be spared dying at sea because God had already told him that he would testify in Rome (23:11). But no one else on that tempest-tossed ship had that same assurance. Luke (who was on the ship with Paul) even wrote, “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (27:20). 

Luke wrote those words only three days into the storm. Little did he know that the storm would rage for another 11 days!! 

On the storm’s fourteenth day, Paul called everyone together with good news: “An angel from God visited me. He assured me that the ship will be wrecked, but all of you will be saved. The only condition is you must stay on the ship with me. Therefore, take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (vv. 22-26). 

Just as Paul told them, the ship ran aground and all 276 people on board made it safely to the shores of Malta! 

When God gives a promise, hold fast to it. Don’t let the storms—no matter how many days they may rage on—cause you to give up hope. 

And when God graciously gives you a word for others, be quick to be the message of encouragement to your storm-tossed, hope-lost companions who so desperately need something to cling to. 

God’s word never fails. God’s word is never lost at sea or in any other calamity. Hold on … be encouraged … and give hope and courage to others too. 

Christ’s Powerful “I”

“…I…” (Jesus in John 14:2, 3, 6)

The disciples of Jesus, by their words and actions, have made it perfectly clear that they are “troubled” at the thought of being on their own. Jesus assures them with three powerful “I” truths:

  1. I go to prepare a place for youyour future home is secure.
  2. I will come againwe will be with Jesus forever.
  3. I am the way, the truth, and the lifethere is no need to second-guess, no confusion; just perfect, heart-cheering clarity!

The disciple’s job—and therefore our job as well—is simply this: “Believe Me” (v. 11). 

When we believe what Jesus says—I go, I will, I am—then we unleash the power of God in our lives. The power to…

  • … do greater works (v. 12)
  • … pray more powerful prayers (vv. 13, 14)
  • … know the companionship of the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-18)

Whenever fear tries to creep in and paralyze us, may we quickly drive out that fear by believing and reaffirming what Jesus says: I go … I will … I AM!

%d bloggers like this: