Unlearning Limiting Fears

Did you know that you were only born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises? Yet the DSM-5 has a whole section to help mental health professionals diagnosis the specific phobia that may be limiting someone’s life. That might be because some places list upwards of 500 recognized phobias that constrict people’s lives! 

Since only two of our fears are innate fears, that means the rest of the fears that trouble us are learned fears. Since God repeatedly says “Fear not!” throughout Scripture, that must mean He also tells us how to overcome our fears. 

Christians—as aliens and strangers on this Earth—should have an alien response to earthly fears. So if we are going to unlearn some of the fears that have cramped our lives we will need to learn and relearn what God says to us.

Peter asks what might seem like a rhetorical question, “Who is going to harm you if are eager to do good?” Think about it: who wants to punish someone for doing the right thing? Apparently some people do because Peter goes on to add, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened” (1 Peter 3:13-14). 

So even if people insult Christians for doing things God’s right way, God’s blessing is on them. Sadly, people without God’s blessing on their lives often give in to the FOMO (fear of missing out) and they end up lashing out at those being blessed. That lashing out is directly rooted in their fears. 

Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs that humans have, and obviously, there would be fears associated with any of those needs not being met. At least, that would be the Earthling response. Christians need to unlearn those fears by learning and relearning why God tells them to “Fear not!” 

  1. Fear of not having physiological needs met—Jesus tells us why we shouldn’t worry (Matthew 6:25-34). 
  2. Fear of not being kept safe—the psalmist tells us that God is our shield (Psalm 84:11).
  3. Fear of not fitting in with a certain social group—Jesus proudly call His followers His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11-12).
  4. Fear of not being rewarded or recognized—Jesus says there are blessings for those that hang in with Him through persecution, including being called a co-heir alongside Him (Matthew 5:10-12; Romans 8:17).
  5. Fear of our life not having purpose—the apostle Paul reminds us that God chose us on purpose to be His example to the world (1 Corinthians 1:25-27). 

Since Jesus overcame all the things that could cause us fear, Peter counsels us to arm yourselves with this same attitude (1 Peter 4:1). The Greek word for arm yourselves only appears here, and it means for us to repeatedly remind ourselves of God’s truth. The Greek word for attitude is only here and in Hebrews 4:12, where we are reminded that the Word of God helps our minds unlearn, learn, and relearn God’s truth. 

Have the borders of your life been squeezed by your fears? Do you feel like you’re missing out on the “abundant life” that Jesus said you could have? The Word of God can help you unlearn those fears, and fellow Christians would love to come alongside you to help you continue to relearn that truth over and over again until your fears are banished from your life! 

Don’t let fear keep you from being all that God has planned for you to be! 

Please join me on Sunday as we continue our study of how Christians are to live as aliens and strangers while on Earth. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live. 

Abundant Bravery

“I am grabbing all you fears by the jugular because I know you are my everyday enemy. You fears are too often my cancer, my addiction, my hidden habit. You’re my jailer, my poison, my daily blade of self-harm. You’ve been my anesthetic, the thing I’ve let come freeze me every day, lock me up, and suck away my life. You’ve snuffed out my soul while you kept on breathing for years. You’re the most common brain tumor, always beginning in our minds.

“You fears may think you can divide us and conquer us and imprison us in small places, in small lives, with high fences that keep out hope and possibility and each other and the lives we really want. But you don’t know how we’re seeing things.

“You may think you can make us cynical about dreams and apathetic about hope and dubious about possibility and people and prospects. But we’re all over you: you aren’t meant to drive our lives; you’re meant to teach us something about life. You’re a chameleon that wears a thousand different masks, and there are ways to see the realest, truest, surest things.

“You can sound loud or you can strut about and rant like pride. You can grow deathly quiet and look like numbness or apathy or indifference or a dream running in the wrong direction.

“But the thing is: When I find my fears, I find my idols. When I find where you lurk, I will look you in the eye until I know your realest name. And I will say your name out loud. …

“So I will go on crushing all of your life-absorbing fears to a fine powder because this is the deal: I want to be better at letting go of you than letting go of joy. I don’t have to worry about what’s up ahead because Christ is the head of everything. And I don’t have to fear what’s around the next corner because Christ is already there too. 

“We don’t have to abide in our fears because we can abide in our Father.

“There’s believing it and then there’s abundantly living it: Fear is a liar, and love hands out keys. Love is infinite and love can’t ever end, and if love doesn’t run out, what is there ever to fear? There will still be love when the worst happens and when the hope doesn’t happen. There will still be love when everything is crumbling, and there will be enough love to rebuild. There will still be enough love to keep breathing, to keep believing, to keep being and being brave.

“For this I know: Fear can be what we feel, but brave is what we do.” —Ann Voskamp, The Way Of Abundance

Check out some other quotes from Ann’s amazing book here, here, and here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 10

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 10

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 10.] 

     The ungodly disposition in a man makes him worship beings or things or ideas in order to render them powerless, and the same idea is apt to creep into the worship of God amongst Christians if not watched—“God will never let this or that come to me; I am a favorite of His.” Jesus Christ’s life is an illustration as to how God will deal with us, He will not shield us from the world, the flesh or the devil, they are allowed to do their worst because God has staked His all on what He has done in us (see John 16:33; 1 John 4:4). Trials and tribulations are trumpet calls to the witnesses to God. …  

     One moment’s realization that Almighty God is your Father through Jesus Christ, and I defy anything to terrify you again for long. If we realize, what these prophets realized, that nothing can happen without God’s permission, we are kept in peace. Worrying is wicked in a Christian. “Let not your heart be troubled.” How dare we be troubled if Almighty God Who made the world and everything in it, is our Father? … 

     We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now? … No matter how moral we may be, every domain of our life that is not regulated by the direct application of the wisdom of God is brutish in God’s sight. … 

     The greatest obstruction to the working of God comes from those who give themselves to interpreting the words of God rather than doing them. … Obedience is superbly easy because we have Almightiness on our side. Acknowledge God’s voice, take the step in the right direction and obey, and you will be backed by omnipotence in every detail. 

From Notes On Jeremiah

We go wrong when…

  • …we try to make God in our image, telling others what God will or won’t do 
  • …see trials and temptations only as bad things 
  • …allow our fears to paralyze us to God’s strength
  • …think we are unworthy to call God our Father 
  • …worry obsessively 
  • …block the Holy Spirit from continuing to make us holy
  • …keep God out of certain areas of our life 
  • …hear God’s Word but don’t obey it

I love this question—“We have got to be holy someday, why not be holy now?” Well, why not?! 

Stand Your Ground!

“If you are going to live the life that God created you to live, if you are going to live to your full potential, if you are going to live the kind of life that never settles, you have to come to a place where you decide to stop running and instead choose to take a stand. 

“You have to eventually stop trying to be what everyone else wants you to be, and you have to stop choosing to become only what comes easy to you. You have to decide what will define you. What will mark you as a person? How will you be known by others? Your decisions are the direct result of truly knowing yourself. … 

“When we run in fear, we are only postponing the inevitable. We will eventually have to face those fears. We will eventually have to fight those battles. Running only makes us weaker and makes our opposition stronger. …  

“There comes a time and a place you have to decide, This is worth fighting for. This is where I stand. This is who I am. This is the life I have chosen. I will not run. I will not allow fear to move me from where I should be to where it wants me to live. I would rather die facing the challenge than exist running from it.” —Erwin McManus, in The Last Arrow (emphasis added) 

Check out my review of The Last Arrow here, and check out some quotes from this book here, here, and here.

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

15 Reasons Not To Fear

In the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, there is a lot of doom-and-gloom prophesy about coming judgment. But as the fortieth chapter opens, there is a decidedly more upbeat outlook as prophesies about the Messiah and the coming of God’s Kingdom unfold before us. 

Fittingly, there is a recurring phrase that wasn’t heard in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah—FEAR NOT. 

Why does Isaiah tell us so many times to banish fear? Here are 15 reasons that God gives: 

  1. God says, “I am with you.” 
  2. God says, “I will strengthen you.” 
  3. God says, “I will uphold you.” 
  4. God says, “Those who contended with you shall be as a nonexistent thing.” 
  5. God says, “I will hold your hand.” 
  6. God says, “I am in control.”
  7. God says, “I will make you into something irresistible.” 
  8. God says, “Everyone will see the amazing things I will do for you.” 
  9. God says, “Anything apart from Me is worthless.” 
  10. God says, “I have redeemed you.” 
  11. God says, “You are Mine.” 
  12. God says, “I know you by name.” 
  13. God says, “I will go through floods and flames with you and you will not be drowned or burned.” 
  14. God says, “Nothing ever takes Me by surprise.” 
  15. God says, “I alone am God and everyone else is a mere man.” 

Bottom line: God’s Word gives us ample reasons to root out fear from our heart. 

Read these promises for yourself in Isaiah 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1-2; 44:8; 51:12.

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 13-23

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 13-23

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 13-23.]

     Isaiah’s message needs to come home to us today—that God is behind the devil, not the devil behind God; all the great world forces are in front of God, and they cannot do a thing without His permission. Today we are so emphasizing the freedom of the human will that we are forgetting the sovereignty of God, consequently when we come up against the forces at work in the world we are paralyzed by fear and get into despair, which we need never have done if we had been built up in faith in God. … Stand strong in faith in God—“I don’t understand this, but I know God is behind it.” … 

     There is no cowardice about Isaiah or about his message. He never lost his faith in God or got discouraged, and when the things he foretold happened, he did not desert the people. …  

     Behind everything stands God; behind the tumult and the confusion God is bringing out everything according to His will. The great thing about faith in God is that it keeps a man undisturbed in the midst of disturbance. … All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God (see 1 John 4:4). … Discouragement comes when we say what God will do—that God will always keep me healthy, that He will always be bringing me into the land of Canaan where I will eat honey; well, He won’t. God is concerned about only one thing—getting me into a personal relationship with Himself. There is no possibility of discouragement if we will only remember that this is the relationship, not God’s blessings, but Himself.

From Notes On Isaiah

When the news of the day, or events in the world, or even what’s happening in your personal life starts to rattle you, consider how Isaiah handled himself. Isaiah knew enemies were closing in, and that the day of God’s judgment was fast approaching too, but he never got fretful. Why? He kept his eyes on God.

God is sovereign. He is in control. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise. Keep your eyes on Him. And remember: “All the forces outside you are futile because they are less powerful than the indwelling of God.”

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