Conquering fear by seeing differently
By Kevin Parker
Editor, Baptist New Mexican
Circumstances influence a person’s expectations, emotions, words and actions.
In Exodus 14, God’s people were camped against a sea and facing the sea. The back of their camp faced the land mass from which they had come. That location and orientation left them feeling trapped.
God’s people looked and saw hundreds of chariots and horses carrying armed warriors coming after them (v. 10). The size of the Egyptian army made them feel overwhelmed. God’s people’s lack of common options to flee or fight further fueled their response. Visible circumstances and facts left them very afraid and expecting defeat.
As a result, God’s people cried out to Him and blamed Moses for their impending doom. They gave up in advance, essentially surrendering, because of “rational fear.” That response made sense to them.
Moses prophesied a new fact, consistent with God’s plan of delivering His people from Egypt: complete, utter deliverance by God. God intended to lead them toward the supposedly impassable sea (vv. 5–16), in victory. So Moses guided God’s people with three corrective instructions.
Since the people’s fear had begun to affect them, Moses told them to recover their self-control. Since God’s people were considering surrender back into slavery, Moses told them to stand their ground as His free people — to be spiritually brave. And, since God’s people had fixated on the spectacle of the approaching Egyptian army, Moses told them to redirect their attention to His power and work.
People respond to fear differently.
- Are my reactions to fear debilitating, distracting and troublesome or merely inconvenient? How does God want me to react? What is the purpose of fear?
- How can the stories of the Bible provide me with alternative narratives to my projections based on circumstances? How can I make those stories more accessible to me when I need them? When I face circumstances that signal certain disaster, how do I react? Where do my feelings and attention take me?
- How can I prepare in advance to maintain self-control, practice spiritual bravery and focus intently on God’s plan and promises?
- In what experiences do I experience seemingly automatic fear, yet the end of those experiences often turns out differently than I feared? What can I learn about myself from those situations? Where do I need to learn how to trust God more?
Takeaway: God delivers His people from fear and into faith.
What is service?
It is not a code of ethics, but a way of living. Service is not a list of things that we do, though in it we discover things to do.
To do specific acts of service is not the same thing as living in the discipline of service.
Just as there is more to the game of basketball than the rule book, there is more to service than specific acts of serving.
It is one thing to act like a servant, it is quite another to be a servant.
As in all the disciplines, it is possible to master the mechanics of service without experiencing the discipline.
To stress the inward nature of service, however, is not enough.
Service to be service must take form and shape in the world in which we live.
Therefore, we must seek to perceive what service looks like in the marketplace of our daily lives. … Begin the day by praying, “Lord Jesus, as it would please you, bring me someone today whom I can serve.”
Author Richard J. Foster
“Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth”
I think it’s important for us to remember that the objective in meetings (like the recent SBC Annual Meeting) is obedience to God. We are often tempted as Baptists to think that we follow a congregational process and are, therefore, seeking to determine the majority opinion on a matter. The simple truth is that we aren’t so much pursuing the majority opinion as we are the heavenly opinion. It is the will of God that we want and need, and we trust God’s oversight to insure that occurs.
Mississippi Baptist Convention Board
Sanctification … means being made one with Jesus. [It] is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: It is Himself in me (1 Cor. 1:30).
My Utmost for His Highest
Church members, your pastors hurt too. They need prayer too. Their family goes through ups and downs just like yours. Have some compassion for your leader. The cross they carry is heavy. Your support, love and encouragement can make things a little lighter.
Pastor Jarman Leatherwood
House of Hope and Restoration Church
God will bury His workers, but He will never bury His work.
Robert Smith Jr.
Professor of preaching at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Birmingham
God has a purpose for you. Above and beyond the mundane everyday life. It isn’t that God wants you to leave your job or where you live. He wants to use you right there. Exactly where you are. Intentionally. Your spiritual life isn’t separate from your regular life.
Clearview Baptist Church
The Southern Baptist Convention is more durable than one year’s business can permanently fix or break.
I guess we’re a little like the U.S. — presidents and congresses come and go, never making as much impact as they threaten or promise.
I’ve found it helpful to remember that when I’m in the minority. If the other guys are wrong, they won’t be as wrong as I fear. If I’m right, it won’t matter as much as I’d hoped.
That perspective helps me grant others the grace to outvote me from time to time. If you want a good report on SBC business, read coverage from your Southern Baptist media.
Maybe the outside media is doing their best, but your Southern Baptist journalists are the gold standard for the story of our convention.
Gary Ledbetter, editor
Southern Baptist Texan
When it comes to issues in the life of the church, our state convention or Southern Baptists at large, sincere people with opposing viewpoints can be certain that the Lord is on their side. But God doesn’t come to take sides — He comes to take over. It’s not a question of whether or not He is on our side. It’s a question of whether or not we are on His … .
Jesus didn’t focus on the debates that divided the crowds. Jesus kept His focus on the one.
When our focus is put where Jesus put His, it’s harder for us to take sides.
Perhaps if each of us took our personal responsibility to share the gospel more seriously, we would focus more on what unites us rather than what divides us. … The urgent need to reach the world for Christ is something we should all agree on.
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
From the Twitterverse
The SBC …
Equipping 20k pastors & leaders
5k+ missionaries & families
100s of churches planted annually
Billions of $ given for mission
47k churches working together
All under a shared confession
All for the nations to know Jesus.
Lord, guard this collaboration.
The greatest sin of omission in the church today can be defined by two words. It’s our personal failure to “make disciples.” To make disciples is not a good suggestion, it’s our Great Commission.
“Churches have to die to self, or they will die.” —Mark Clifton
Pray for (the newly formed sexual abuse task force). Southern Baptists have a penchant for one-and-done, one-size-fits-all “solutions.” That’s not how this will go. Healing from abuse, trauma and their aftermath don’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way.
Paul was deeply frustrated with the church when he wrote 2 Corinthians, but he began the letter with “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 1:2). May our desire for others to know grace and peace overwhelm our frustrations with them!
Some of us neglect the glorious bodies we’ve been given. Others become obsessed with cultivating strength and fitness. But God calls us to modestly maintain our bodies — so that we are fit to do good.
“Our prayers must be in accordance with the will of God for the simple reason that God knows better what is good for us than we know ourselves.”
If Christians would spend less time harassing each other and more time helping other people, more people would want to become Christians.
The question before me today: Will I live with a spirit of entitlement or gratefulness? Service or selfishness?
Sometimes it’s not truth we love but being right. Both can look orthodox. But one humbles and one leads to conceit.