Refusing To Be Controlled By Fear

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The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

How many of my daily choices are affected by fear?

  • whether to try something new or to stick with what’s familiar?
  • should I confront a friend on a bad choice or let him figure it out on his own?
  • to spend money or to invest it for later? what do I buy? where do I invest?
  • what if people don’t like what I do or say? what if they talk behind my back?

David begins this psalm with the same kinds of questions, as he battles enemies surrounding him, the possibility of his family rejecting him, false witnesses speaking lies against him, and foes closing in from every side. 

In the middle of all of these swirling issues, David exhibits a confidence that starkly stands out:

  • whom shall I fear?
  • of whom shall I be afraid?
  • my heart will not fear
  • I will be confident
  • I am still confident

How can David respond this way? He kept turning his thoughts from the temporal to the eternal—

It may seem dark now, but God is light.

People may be fickle, but God is unchanging.

Foes may be strong, but God is the strongest.

People are mean, but God is good.

Both David’s opening and closing thoughts in this psalm are really a conversation with himself: The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? … I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (vv. 1, 13, 14)

My friends, don’t let fear drive your decisions. Let confidence in God drive your decisions. Talk back to your fearful thoughts like David did and remind them of the great and loving God that cares for you. Don’t take matters into your own hand, but wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. 

I used Psalm 27 as a teaching example of how to turn passages from the Bible into our own personalized prayers. Check out this 5-minute video here:

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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.

12 Quotes From “JumpStart Your Growth”

JumpStart Your GrowthJumpStart Your Growth is a companion book to The 15 Invaluable Laws Of Growth by John Maxwell. Check out my review of both of these books by clicking here. These are some of the quotes I appreciated from JumpStart.

“The time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” —Bruce Springsteen

“Growing involves admitting you don’t have the answers, and it requires that you get over any fear you may have of making mistakes or looking foolish. And I found that I had to get started if I wanted to find the best way. That is the price of admission if you want to improve.” —John Maxwell

“If you want to get from where you are to where you want to be, you have to start by becoming aware of the choices that lead you away from your desired destination.” —Darren Hardy

“No factor is more important in people’s psychological development and motivation than the value judgments they make about themselves. Every aspect of their lives is impacted by the way they see themselves.” —Nathaniel Branden

“You need to learn to become your own encourager. Every time you do a good job, don’t just let it pass; give yourself a compliment. Every time you choose discipline over indulgence, don’t tell yourself that you should have anyway; recognize how much you are helping yourself. Every time you make a mistake, don’t bring up everything that’s wrong with yourself; tell yourself that you’re paying the price for growth and that you will learn to do better next time. Every positive thing you can say to yourself will help.” —John Maxwell 

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” —William James

“If there is an area in your life that seems overwhelming to you—health, work, family, or something else—try chipping away at it a little bit every day instead of trying to tackle it all at once. … Discipline is a morale builder. Boost yours by taking small steps that will take you in a positive direction.” —John Maxwell 

“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.” —Jim Rohn

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or to accept the responsibility for changing them.” —Denis Waitley 

“Rarely does a haphazard approach to anything succeed, and if it does, it’s not repeatable.” —John Maxwell

“Train yourself to fight for positive changes. Remember that your choices will lead to either the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret.” —John Maxwell

“You can’t improve and avoid change at the same time.” —John Maxwell

10 Quotes On Emotional Health From “Brain Savvy-Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersOur emotions start in our brain. Charles Stone wrote a very helpful book called Brain-Savvy Leaders, in which he covers a lot of ground inside our heads. One aspect is our emotional health. I encourage you to read my review of this book by clicking here. Below are some quotes Charles shared on our emotional health.

“Gratefulness is actually good for brain and body health.” 

“When the emotionality of leaders takes over, they compromise their ability to lead well in these ways:

  • impulse can overwhelm intention
  • imagination gets pushed aside by instinct
  • defensiveness stifles healthy positions
  • automatic behavior shuts down reflective thought
  • emotionality gets in the way of intentionality.”

“Fear, conscious and unconscious, is prompted by the amygdala. The brain naturally focuses on problems and the negative. It overestimates threats and underestimates opportunities. In fact, two-thirds of the brain cells in our amygdala are primed for negativity and fear. Negative networks in our brain outweigh positive ones by five to one. And negative emotions are more easily consolidated (made more permanent) into our long-term memory than positive emotions.”

“Fear can even be subconscious, especially if we’re surrounded by bad news, critical people, or if our self-talk is constantly negative.”

“Neuroscientists have found that stuffing, denying, or a ignoring our emotions reinforces them, affects short-term memory, increases blood pressure, and robs our brain’s prefrontal cortex of the mental energy it needs.”

“Although it may seem counterintuitive, tagging your emotions, through labeling and naming them by putting feelings into words, actually recruits our impulse break and dampens activity in our panic alarm.”

“Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.” —Chinese Proverb

“Since our brains process and remember bad events more thoroughly than good ones…it’s vital that we develop the discipline of being aware of our thoughts. … Thinking about our thinking is called ‘metacognition.’”

“Emotions play a significant role in decision-making and influence how well your team will embrace change. Just presenting facts without engaging positive and hopeful emotions will seldom move your team forward. The brain can only handle so much change at once. Trying to create too much change too quickly can engage the brain’s fear center and cause an away response, thus hindering change.”

“In one research study in Israel, Dr. Tal Shafir looked at the impact of movement on the brain of twenty-two young male and female participants. They looked at video clips of actors performing various emotions that corresponded to sad, fearful, happy, or neutral. Happy movements included raising their arms in the air, skipping, and jumping. Sad movements included closing their chests and slumping forward. The participants then either mimicked the movements or imagined themselves doing them. The emotions they reported mirrored the corresponding movements. So, if you need a mood boost, keep a good posture or throw your arms up and out into the air.”

Previously I shared some other quotes from this book on how we learn, and on how to keep our brain healthy. Please check these out too.

What Are You Whispering?

Wise King Solomon gave us this advice:

Never say anything that isn’t true. Have nothing to do with lies and misleading words. (Proverbs 4:24)

Most decent people don’t have an issue with this one. We would never dream of whispering to someone we care about things like…

  • …you’re a loser.
  • …you can’t seem to do anything right.
  • …hey, stupid, nice job. Not!

But the verse just before says this:

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (v. 23)

I wonder how many times we whisper words like loser, failure, or stupid to ourselves. The things we’d never say to someone else, we seem all too ready to say to ourselves!

What are you whispering to yourself? Listen closely. Are you whispering things to yourself that you would never whisper to someone else? Then it’s time to start whispering something new.

Solomon preceded this with these words of affection that seem to come right from our Heavenly Father’s mouth:

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen to my words. Never let them get away from you. Remember them and keep them in your heart. (vv. 20-21)

God’s Spirit will never, ever, EVER speak cutting, hurtful, unkind, or untrue words to you. God loves you as if you were the only person on earth to love! He loves you so much that He sent His Son to rescue you.

Listen closely because He’s saying it right now, “I love you!

Yeah, whisper that to yourself instead!

Good For What?

There is a power in what we say. This is probably most true in what we say to ourselves.

Far too many people are so quick to beat themselves up and run themselves down. Do you ever do that?

  • How could I have missed that? I’m so stupid!
  • Grrr! I forgot my wallet again. I’m so forgetful!
  • I can’t believe I said that! I’m so insensitive!
  • I could never paint like that. I’m so uncreative!
  • I really messed that one up. I’m such an idiot!
  • I can’t seem to do anything right. I’m just a good-for-nothing!

If you talked to your friends the same way you talk to yourself, would you have any friends left?

The things you say to yourself have got to change. The way you think about yourself has got to change.

God made you the way He made you on purpose. In all of human history, there has never been another you. Right now among the nearly 7 billion people on earth, there isn’t anyone like you.

You are you because God made you. He loves what He made. He loves you!

Perfect? No way! None of us are. That’s one of the few things you and I have in common with everyone else.

Unique? You better believe it!

One of a kind? You sure are!

Good for something? Yep! You have the talents and abilities and personality and temperament that God intended for you to have.


Look into God’s mirror and let Him reflect back to you just how wonderful you are! Spend quiet time with your Creator, with your Lover. Hear Him whisper to your heart how special you are.

Then be you. The world needs you to be you. The world is a better place with you in it.

Say What?

I know that you had a very important conversation yesterday. And I also know that you are going to have an extremely important conversation again today. The question is not if you had the conversation, it’s whether or not you heard the conversation clearly?

The most important conversation you will have today is the ongoing conversation you will have all day long with yourself.

But are you clearly listening to what you are saying to yourself?

I was helping Betsy grade some papers from her fourth-grade students and I noticed something consistently appearing on one of her student’s papers. This student performs well academically, and Betsy says her behavior in the classroom is “angelic.” So I don’t think it’s coincidental that this young lady talks to herself positively all day long. On her papers she writes notes to herself like “You R The Best” and “I rock!”

The way you speak to yourself matters.

The way you speak to yourself determines your attitude.

The way you speak to yourself will determine how you treat others.

Jesus said it this way, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. …[And] love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).

The way you love yourself determines how you love others.

The way you speak to yourself determines your performance. Dr. James Hardy of the University of Wales says, “Athletes who talk to themselves in a positive way perform better. Thinking good thoughts isn’t enough you have to say them, either muttered or out loud.”

Some of you may be saying some really harsh things to yourself. Some of the things you say to yourself would earn someone else a smack in the mouth if they said the same thing to you.

Listen to what you are saying to yourself! Stop beating yourself up!

Maybe like Betsy’s student, you might even have to write yourself a note or two to remind yourself how valuable you are. You are one-of-a-kind—there’s never been anyone like you before, no one is like you now, and no one will duplicate you in the future.

Make sure that’s the message that’s getting through loud and clear today.

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