Monday, April 29, 2013

The Lady and the Tiger

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” 
(Eleanor Roosevelt)

What are you afraid of? Some of the most common fears are the fear of heights, closed in places, certain animals and death. However, the most common phobia, and the one that tops the list each year, is the fear of speaking in public. Year after year, in surveys, the fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death! 

What do you do when you’re afraid? Most of us try to avoid any circumstance where we come into contact with our fears, but what do you do when you are faced with something unexpectedly that scares you? Do you freeze up? Maybe your first response is to run. For some people, an unexpected scare puts them into fight mode. 

When we are faced with something that rattles us, our brain usually takes a second to evaluate the danger. Many times we are able to function rationally, see that the fear does not put us in imminent danger and walk away. However, what if the thing that we face is much bigger and stronger than we are? 

A lady in Salina, Kansas had an experience last week that most of us would prefer not to have in our lifetime. She was with her family, enjoying the circus that was in town that day. She needed to use the bathroom, so she left her seat and went down the hall. As she was walking toward the bathroom, a lady and her daughter passed her and informed her that a tiger had gotten loose. 

She didn’t think much about it until she opened the door to the restroom, which automatically closed behind her. When she looked up, she found herself face to face with a huge tiger. She said, "It was the closest I have ever been to a tiger not in a cage. You don't expect to go in a bathroom door, have it shut behind you and see a tiger walking toward you."

She said that her experience as a social worker helped her keep calm. She stated, "I'm always on alert, and it was easy to walk out; that's how I am trained. Looking back, it was a scary ordeal. At the time, I was thinking I just needed to get out."

What would you have done? Would there be anything in your past experience that would have helped you stay calm and alive in that circumstance? The woman slowly backed away, calmly opened the door and walked out. Could you have done the same? 

The Bible has a lot to say about fear. Sometimes, we fear the unknown. Other times we fear the situations right in front of us. Whatever the things are that cause you to fear, God knows and sees everything. If we put our trust in Him, knowing that He loves us more than anything in the world, then we can face those things that shake us out of our comfortable existence. 

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7, that fear is not of God. It is something that the enemy has used since the beginning to bind us and keep us from experiencing the fullness of life, that God intended for us to have. Think about how many times the scripture reminds us not to be afraid. God knew, as the Bible was being written, that this would be one of the toughest things for us to overcome, so He made sure that we would have many promises in His Word to help us resist fear. 

Most of us will never walk into a bathroom and find a tiger. However, there are many things that we face each day that make us fall short of the blessings God has for us, because of fear. The woman used her experience to escape the encounter with the tiger. We can use our foundation in God’s Word to ward off the enemy and “fear not!” 

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Wicked Flee

Looking back is a bad habit. (Rooster Cogburn. True Grit. 1969)


I have never seen the 2010 version of True Grit. I much prefer the John Wayne version. Not that I have anything against Jeff Bridges, I just happen to like the way John Wayne portrayed Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 version of the movie.

However, I have seen the first few seconds of the newer version and I noticed that it opens up with a bit of scripture. Before you see any action from the film, the words, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,” appear in white against a black screen. The quote is followed by the scripture reference, Proverbs 28:1.

The trouble with this is that it doesn’t finish the quote. The second part of the scripture is, “But the righteous are bold as a lion.” What exactly does this all mean? It means that those who are in the Truth have nothing to fear. However, those who are wicked and bear the guilt of sin, are always looking back to see if someone is on to them. That is not the life Christ intended for us to have.

Last week, a young man, named Jeremiah, had apparently hitched a ride with a trucker. When the driver pulled the semi into the weigh station and got out, Jeremiah stole the truck and drove away in a big hurry. Jeremiah was driving very recklessly with his trailer load of strawberries. However, it was not the strawberries he was interested in. He was running for his life!

Jeremiah eventually crashed the large truck into a Toyota Tacoma, which then struck an SUV and a Mercedes. After that, the young man finally lost control of the semi after crashing into two other vehicles. The truck came to rest on its side and blocked a whole lane of the interstate. Panicked, but still uninjured, Jeremiah jumped into a nearby van and demanded a ride, but the van owner pulled him out of the van. With the help of other bystanders, the van owner held him until the police arrived.

Why was Jeremiah in such a rush? He wasn’t trying to steal the truck or the strawberries. He was fleeing! When the police questioned him, he told them that he stole the truck because zombies were chasing him and he needed to get out of town. Police were in the process of determining if Jeremiah was under the influence of drugs.

I think it’s pretty clear that zombies were not chasing the man. To most of us, that sounds crazy to think that zombies were after him, but, for whatever reason, they seemed real to Jeremiah. However, the reality is that there was no one chasing him. He only thought there was.

Many times our guilty conscious makes us do strange things. We get edgy. We seem nervous. We don’t want people asking too much about our business. Sometimes, we may even try to run away from our problems.

God never designed us to carry a load of guilt. The fact is, that God already knows what you have done, even if you have been successful in hiding it. King David committed a number of sinful acts during the whole issue with Bathsheba. Lust, covetousness, adultery, lying and murder were all involved.

On the outside, David seemed to continue living as if nothing had happened. However, on the inside, he knew that what he had done was wrong. David may have thought that God had not seen his sin, had forgotten or was ignoring it. However, God sent Nathan, the prophet, to David to inform him that God did see and know. Not only did God know about the sin, but Nathan informed David that God was going to hold David accountable for it.

God sees and knows all. The good news is that He loves you anyway! Stop running from Him and run to Him. He is there waiting to lift the burden of your guilt and give you a life of blessing.

Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. (1 John 3:19-21)