Overcoming the Spirit of Fear

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2nd Timothy 1:7

We are certainly living in interesting times. All around we are faced with new things to worry and fret over. Whether it be viruses or economic difficulties or even the future. There are plenty of thoughts that can capture us in fear.

For the longest time, I thought the way to overcome fear was to just be bolder. You know, the old pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality. I can be like that from time to time. Just man up and face those fears!

But as I was reading through 2nd Timothy recently, I was struck by this verse in a way that it hadn’t struck me before. Fear is a spirit. And the answer to spiritual attacks is never just “stop being scared” or “be bolder.”

When you find yourself in a spiritual attack, the first thing you should do is pray. As Christians, we need to be people of prayer. When we pray, we are reminded as to who is in charge and it most certainly isn’t the spirit of fear. God is in charge! And our first response should always be to turn to Him.

I know this isn’t always easy to do. When you find yourself surrounded by fear, typically the first thing we do is retreat. We look to run and hide. I know people who are “doing church at home” because they are full of fear. Most of them do not even see it. These same people go to work and visit stores and even go out to eat, but they won’t attend church. Many Christians do not really believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain!

We need to be reminded that it is God who is in control. He holds our lives in His hands. We don’t control life or death, He does! When we pray, we gain perspective. We humble ourselves and lift Him up. It’s a two-part process. We realize that we are low and that He is mighty!

The next thing we should realize is that we are commanded by Paul in his treatise on spiritual warfare in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This isn’t an option! It’s a command. Paul is trying to help us fight spiritual battles. There are two things I want you to notice in this:

1. We need to take our thoughts captive. This means we capture our thoughts. We don’t let them run free. They aren’t free to just run us over. They are put into bondage. We bind them.

2. Paul says every thought. That means that not one thought should be rebelling against Christ’s authority. Your thoughts…your mind…your very being are all subject to God and his sovereignty. He owns them. Every one of them.

Paul is right. It’s easy to let our thoughts run away with us. Our thoughts typically take us captive! Isn’t that how you feel when you are facing a fearful situation? Like you are being held prisoner by your fears? That’s because you aren’t seeing this as a spiritual battle! Take your thoughts captive man or woman of God!

The last thought I want to leave you with is probably the most important — The Bible is not silent on how we are to deal with the spirit of fear. The Bible tells us exactly how to get rid of it! The Apostle John in his first letter tells us that we are not to “believe every spirit, but test the spirits…” (1st John 4:1). John is telling us that spirits will lie to us. And most of the time, that is exactly how the spirit of fear attacks us…with lies! The second thing it tells is that we are to test the spirits to see if it is from God or not. Not everything spiritual is from God and that’s John’s point. John goes on though and addresses fear head on and he tells exactly how to get rid of fear. It’s driven away by perfect love!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1st John 4:18

Perfect love is what drives out fear. What is perfect love? It’s the love of God. You loving God and God loving you is what drives out fear. Why? Because inside of God’s love is the fullness of peace. Inside of His grace there is no room for fear. God’s love for you is perfect and in it is freedom from judgment and death.

So the question I have for you is this…are you abiding in His perfect love today?

The True Neverending Story

HERE’S THE TRUTH:
You have found yourself in the midst of a story. Your story. Your life is a story and even now, as you sit here reading this, your story is being written. Here are some things to know about this story.
1. You don’t know where you are in the story: You know it’s not the beginning of your story, that was years ago, when you were born. But you aren’t really sure what chapter you are on. Some books are short, like brochures, and others are long winding novels. You may be close to the end of your story, but you really don’t know. Like many books, sometimes the chapters end abruptly and a character arc is cut short. The interesting thing about this story is you can’t see how many pages are left, so you have to just keep reading.
2. You don’t know the synopsis or the cliff notes of this story. As much as I love to read, I also like to look at the back cover to see what the story is about before I start a book. But this book is unlike others, you can’t read a summary of the book. You have no idea what is going to happen and unlike some books that have predictable endings, this book never seems to go the way you think it should.
3. You might not be the main character. This is your story, but you are not the main character in this book. You might actually be the supporting character in someone else’s story. Maybe you are the villian. Or perhaps you are the comic relief. Either way, you should probably not read this book as to being about you. Your significance in the story isn’t found in you, it’s found in how you support the other characters in the story.
4. This story is dangerous. Unlike superhero novels, in this story, you get hurt. You experience heartache, pain and suffering. And through it all, you always seem to push through. You’ve made it this far, as you say. But you realize that at some point, this story is a tragedy, because you will die. The pages are littered with foreshadowing of your demise. Perhaps you will go peacefully in the night, or maybe you won’t. Only time will tell.
5. Your story has an author. All books are written by someone, but the unique thing about your story is that you can know your author. You can speak to him. You can interact with him. You can love Him. And what’s even more unique is that the author of your story actually wrote himself into the book, even though the pages he is mentioned on are now stained red. The Author has promised that if you trust Him to finish writing your story, he will include you in another book: The Book of Life.
In the midst of all the madness of this world. The reality is that no matter how many people die from a virus or a flu or car accidents, no one is promised tomorrow. Your story will end and most of us will receive very little if any notice at all. It will simply end. But if you have put your trust in the Author of Life, then you really have nothing to fear because you will be written into the sequel. You will be in the next book and that book is the true neverending story.
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Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections With The One You Love

Marriage books can be a dime a dozen, so I was somewhat skeptical when I was approached by email asking if I would review a book on marriage. The title of the book is Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections with the One You Love written by Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell.Love-Lock-Large-Front-668x1024

“In our socially networked but disconnected age, we all find ourselves longing for a stronger, deeper connection!” Says the tagline on the back of the book.

I’m no expert in marriage, but I have read a few marriage books over the years and took a class in bible college on Marriage and Family. I typically divide marriage books into one of two styles: thought-provoking or practical. This book tries to bridge that divide without breaking much new ground, though depending on your experience this may be totally new ground for you. And while this book leans toward the practical, which I do like, it doesn’t overdo it. It’s a good mix between the two.

Each chapter of Love Lock typically starts with a short story to illustrate the greater point of the chapter. I really enjoyed that approach. It gave me a real life example to relate to before tackling the greater subject at hand. Rollins and Trammell do a great job in selecting the right stories to give readers a better understanding of the topic at hand.

The book is broken down by six of our basic needs in relationships: I need to feel understood, I need to feel valued, I need to feel a part of you, I need to feel appreciated and cherished, I need to trust you and I need more resolution, less conflict.

“This book is our studied response to the needs we’ve observed in our combined sixty years of counseling, and it is our humble attempt to point out the Bible’s answers to the growing loneliness and lack of connection documented in research journals,” says Rollins and Trammell.

Overall I found this book to be a worthy read with a few disclaimers. I do feel it would be a little more timely for couples who find themselves in the midst of conflict. And secondly, I do feel it’s more geared towards couples who are younger.

Return To Your First Love: An Overview of Ephesians

Personal update: For those that do not know, starting December 1, I was named pastor of a local church here in North Carolina. And it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve not had time to devote to the blog or podcast because of this process. I am currently serving as pastor and working full time and that leaves very little time for everything else. I’m going to continue to update this as much as possible and may just be posting mainly portions of my sermon notes for the foreseeable future. I appreciate your prayers and understanding. Much love – Brian.

The city of Ephesus is located in Modern day Turkey. It was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and it was home to one of the seven wonders of the world – the Temple of Artemis. Rather than looking in Ephesians, we are going to start our study in the book of Acts, chapter 18.

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,[d] he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland[a] country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c] 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Here we see what happens in Ephesians…Apollos starts preaching there and winning converts. Aquilla and Priscilla explain things to him a little more. Later he takes off to Corinth and the Apostle Paul shows up and starts baptizing people in the Holy Spirt. The Apostle Paul stays there for two more years preaching the word to Jews and Greeks.

Continue reading “Return To Your First Love: An Overview of Ephesians”

American Idolatry: Can Family Become An Idol?

In this episode I’m look at whether family can become an idol? Can something that God has ordained as the building block for society really become idolatrous. We spend some time discussing that on today’s show. I’m also experimenting with a new format to the show, so drop me a comment and let me know what you think of the new shorter format.

American Idolatry: How Identity Becomes An Idol

If you are just joining us, you’ve caught us in the middle of a series we started a few weeks back called American Idolatry, where we are looking at some of the idols that are prevalent in American culture. Now these idols can obviously be found in people groups all over the world, but the one’s I’m picking out for the show seems to be especially prevalent in American culture.

Today’s topic is the idol of identity. As we know from the book of Genesis, man was created in the image of God. We were created with a certain identity. Who we are and how we relate to God is wrapped up in our identity. Being made in God’s image has tons of implications and first and foremost it identifies us as like God, but not God. We are made to be like him, but we aren’t him. We are a copy, he is the master.

One of the problems in American culture stems from one of the things that I think makes it great, the old “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” mentality. Americans are known to be individualists. We don’t need anyone else and we can prove it. The problem with this thinking is the face that we are made in the image of a Triune God. Because God is Triune, he is in perfect community within himself. We also should be in community. We Continue reading “American Idolatry: How Identity Becomes An Idol”

American Idolatry: What Does God Say About Sex?

We’ve got a great show in store for you today, first off, we are continuing our new series called American Idolatry. Today’s topic: Sex. (Click play on the player above to listen) Then in our Good News segment, we look at an article about a North Carolina county who declared itself a sanctuary for the unborn. Our Unreached People Group is the Hausa of Nigeria and in Today’s Word, we look at John 11 and the resurrection of Lazarus.

“You have made my heart beat faster, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices! Your lips, my bride, drip honey…”

Song of Songs 4:9-11

Good News –

NC County Declares Itself a Sanctuary for Unborn

Unreached People Group –

Hausa of Nigeria

Today’s Word – John 11:17-44

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

 

American Idolatry: Money

So to kick off this new series on Idolatry, let’s first define the word idol. An idol is anything that you worship in the place of God. When we worship idols we are in violation of the first commandment and quite possibly the second: You shall have no other gods before me and you shall not make any idols. The first commandment covers the big picture: No other gods. An idol is something that we make into a god. Now some, like in Bible times, were actual items of worship, like a golden calf or in our time and buddha statue. Other idols could be ones that we can’t see, like the Sun God Ra, or in today’s case – Money.

You’ve heard the old saying, Money is the root of all evil right? Well, that’s not the actual saying, the real saying is the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Money, like many things, is not inherently evil by itself, it’s our love and worship of it that makes it the root of evil. People for ages have worshiped at the foot of money and yet walked away broke and lost. Others have amassed fortunes of it, only to realize that it cannot be taken with them to the grave.

Jesus himself had a lot to say about money. Jesus seemed to talk about money more than just about anything else. Out of 40 parables, he spoke on money at least 11 times. This tells us how important money was to Jesus. But why? I think Jesus spoke on it so much because he knew our hearts. He knew that this is an area for struggle for most people.

I think most people find it easier to trust God with their health than their money. People find it easier to trust that God will take them to heaven than trusting God will take care of them financially. We tend to spend most of our lives worrying about money, especially if you aren’t rich. And all of this worry is really another form of worship. We worship Continue reading “American Idolatry: Money”

Child Abuse and Church Coverups

 In this episode we discuss a recent child abuse scandal within the church. In our good news segment, we talk about a group who raised $57k for the abused and homeless. Our Unreached People Group is the Japanese of Japan. Today’s Word comes from John 10.

LINK TO NEWS ARTICLE

LINK HERE – Published letters discussed on today’s show.

Good News –

Over 12,000 Students Raise 57K for Abused Women, Homeless

Unreached People Group –

Japanese of Japan

Today’s Word – John 10:22-42

22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.