Tag Archives: Fear

Don’t Assume God’s Not Working

22 Jul

Kathi, holding a tiny baby, walked into a drug store and asked the clerk if she could use the store’s baby scale.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” the clerk said. “Our baby scale is broken. But we can figure the baby’s weight if we weigh mother and baby together on the adult scale.

“Then we can weigh the mother alone, and subtract the second number from the first.”

“Oh, that won’t work,” Kathi said.

The clerk, puzzled, said, “Why not?”

“Because I’m not the mother,” Kathi said. “I’m the aunt.” *

I laugh as I read that, because I’ve often assumed something wouldn’t work, but I had a skewed perspective … or a limited one.

Have you ever assumed that God’s not working in a situation, only to find out some time later that He was working behind the scenes, planning for something spectacular or even “impossible”?

Once, when I felt led away from one job to another, I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t give me the “release” to change jobs right away. A little frustrated, I determined to work hard and “finish well” for as long as God kept me in that job.

Then, months later, God opened an incredible opportunity for ministry and gave me the “go ahead;” but when I went into my boss’s office to tell him I was moving on, I was shocked that he seemed relieved!

A week or so later, I discovered why. I was one of his employees slated for layoff!

God had a greater plan that I could not see, and His timing was perfect.

M. Blaine Smith wrote about his experiences with God’s unseen activity in an article titled “Help from Behind the Scenes” (12-15-97). “If I could glimpse the unseen circumstances that are affecting my destiny,” Smith said, “I would often be encouraged by what I found.”

But then he said, “If I truly knew everything going on behind the scenes that’s affecting my life, I would be unsettled by plenty of it, for I wouldn’t automatically know how to put it all in right perspective.”

How does he resolve his feelings about this? “Yet I have an extraordinary basis for knowing ~ simply as a matter of faith ~ that Christ is working behind the scenes to bring about his best for my life,” he said. “Without knowing any of the details of what He is doing, I have profound reason to be hopeful.”

Over and over again in the Bible, we see that God worked behind the scenes for our good and His glory.

God gave Gideon a glimpse behind the scenes of how He was going to defeat the enemy Midianites (Judges 7:9-15). God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the powerful angelic army “behind the scenes,” ready to fight against the enemy (2 Kings 6:15-18) ~ one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

Smith notes that, at Jesus’ birth, “few realized that God was acting in a way which would forever alter the course of human history and the destiny of innumerable lives.”

But I’m thinking about the “behind the scenes” story of Jesus’ death! I am awed by this scripture: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Apparently, Satan and his evil cohorts had no idea of the scope of the incredible behind the scenes plan of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection!

Friend, our loving, sovereign God is always working behind the scenes. There’s no need to worry … no need to fear … no need to manipulate circumstances.

We can rest, knowing everything is under control. Let that truth give you hope today!

Comment opportunity:  Has God ever pulled back the curtain to let you see behind the scenes to what He is doing in your life? Or have you been surprised by God’s activity on your behalf? I’d love to hear your stories!

* adapted from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3674

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Predictions

5 Sep

My friend Mike Atkinson emailed me (Dawn) some predictions of headlines from the year 2059. Among the predictions:

  • Baby conceived naturally! Scientists stumped. (LOL)
  • Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.
  • George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2060.
  • Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.
  • 85-year, $75.8 billion study:  Diet and exercise is the key to weight loss. [No fooling.]
  • Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.
  • Average height of NBA players is now nine feet seven inches.
  • IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or say “ouch” at those predictions ... especially that one about the tax rate!

I read with interest the 29 predictions made by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr.,  in December 1900 in The Ladies Home Journal. Some were right on, such as the fact that wireless telephone and telegraph circuits would span the world, and electricity would be used instead of coal for heating and cooking.No Mosquitos

Others were funny, such as his prediction that there would be no mosquitoes or flies, or that we would eat peas and beans as large as beets, or strawberries as large as apples. Watkins said there would be no “C,” “X,” or Q” in our everyday alphabet; they would be abandoned as unnecessary.

The Bible gives lots of predictions about the future, and students of biblical prophecy have learned to read the “signs” of the End Times.  Even people in the world who do not believe the Bible consider others’ Predictionspredictions, such as the prophecies of Nostradamus or the Mayan calendar and its dire predictions for 2012.

We humans are naturally curious about prophecy and predictions, because we want to know the future ~ we want to be prepared.

But some people are totally preoccupied with predictions out of fear.

Jesus answered the disciples concerns about “the end of the world” in Matthew 24:3-14. He shared various signs and He didn’t paint a pretty picture of things to come, but in the midst of His description, Jesus gave this word of comfort (v. 6): “see to it that you are not alarmed” ~ not frightened or troubled.

This is always the balance of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:1 tells us that “perilous times shall come,” but the Bible also tells us, in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  We’re not to fear these scary times. We can respond with a calm, disciplined, strong mind if we keep a biblical perspective. We know who wins. We know the One who can empower us to respond in love and confidence, and the Spirit of God gives us the wisdom and strength to stand against the lies of the enemy in our generation.

Face it. As we get closer and closer to the End Times described in the Bible, we’re going to see more signs of His coming, and some are scary ~ like increasing wars in the Middle East, more weapons of mass destruction, the growth of a one-world power, and economic struggle that will lead to a global economy. I heard so many End Times Posterpredictions about the economy in the past weeks that my heart beat faster and I started thinking about how to “prepare” in case of disaster (and that’s not a bad idea).

But always, we need to remember that ~ no matter the circumstances ~ God is in control, and He loves and cares for His children. Anything that touches us is by His design and for His ultimate glory, and He gives us the power to endure in suffering. And if we suffer to the point of death, it’s a win for the believer. We get to spend eternity with God!

I love Jesus’ words in John 14:1. Jesus understood His disciples concerns about the future and where their Master was headed. He told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.” (Amplified Version)

Jesus said He was going home to prepare “a place” for His followers, and He promised the Holy Spirit would come to indwell, comfort, and guide (v. 26). But Jesus didn’t stop there. He bequeathed to the disciples (and to us) a special gift ~ His peace (v. 27). It is not the peace the world offers, but supernatural, God-blessed peace.

And then Jesus said something (in the middle of verse 27) to encourage them and us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” (Amplified Version)

Jesus wants us to respond to the predictions of troubling times in a way that is very different from the world. The world will naturally fear ~ maybe even panic. We see this in Luke 21:26, which tells us men’s hearts will fail for fear (they will faint in terror or worse) when they see the events of the End Times come to pass.

Perfect PeaceBut we who know God must respond in surrender to and trust in Him, and as we trust, an amazing thing will happen. Isaiah 26:3 says it well: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Psalm 112:7 says it another way ~ we will not fear “evil tidings” when our heart is “fixed [steadfast], trusting in the Lord.”

So when “evil tidings” ~ scary predictions ~ come, do something positive to focus in the right direction. Pray. Call out to God, your deliverer in trouble (Psalm 91:15-16). Memorize Bible passages about God’s provision and power. Sing to the Lord of your trust in Him. Read scriptures that will remind you of His goodness and care for His own. Remind yourself that the “spirit of fear” is not from Him, and choose to cast it out of your life by faith. Claim the promises of scripture.

May God give us all great freedom from fear in these days and those to come as we learn to lean hard on His loving care and faithfulness.

Courage from Erma

18 May

With another Mother’s Day under our belts, we can’t resist some humor from Erma BombeckAmerican humorist Erma Bombeck, who often wrote about mothers.

To singles:  “Spend at least one Mother’s Day with your respective mothers before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him.”

And to anyone who has a mother (or mother-in-law) … “When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality,” Erma said. “It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.” *

One of our girlfriends, Maria Keckler, shares our love of this adorable humorist. We asked her to share as a guest blogger. Wise and funny herself, we know you’ll enjoy Maria’s words.

I love Erma Bombeck.  Before Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Milton, and the entire canon of British and American writers I had to read in my English programs, Erma Bombeck singlehandedly opened for me a window into the world of real American English.  She may have, in fact, helped me prove the critics wrong when they said that anyone attempting to learn English past the age of 15 can’t approximate native proficiency.

Erma Bombeck PassportI’ll never forget one of her books, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home, specially her tale on the perils of trying to speak a foreign language. She tells the story about the time when she would introduce “Pope John Paul II, who was to preside over a papal Mass in Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona” in September 1987.  She was so honored by the invitation that she desperately wanted to do something special, so she asked her seamstress, the only Pole she knew, to teach her how to welcome the Pope in his own language. 

On the night before the grand day, she decided to rehearse her speech before two priests in charge of the event.  She took a deep breath before her big finish, “Arizona vita oitsasven-tegoyanapawwadruuuugeggo.”

Confused, one of the priests said, “Why would you want to tell the Pope his luggage is lost?”

“I am not good with language,” she responded. **

“OMG…” That’s what Erma would have texted her husband had that incident happened today.

What I loved about Erma and her story is that both exemplified the spirit of fearlessness I learned from reading her many years ago. She taught me not to worrying about looking or sounding foolish—a lesson that served me well since I would spend many years making a fool of myself with my very broken English.  But if Erma was willing to try… and look foolish—so could I!  Imagine, not only did she look foolish (very often) in private, but she built a publishing career out of sharing her faux pas with the world! 

I love that God’s Word makes a distinction between healthy fear (a required reverence for God – Psalm 111:10) versus unhealthy fear (fear of others—including what others may think of me).  Galatians 1:10 reminds me of this principle: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (NIV).

I’m glad I got to meet Erma through her words years before I dared to enter a classroom to teach—English, of all things. It helped me stand before my native English speaking students on the first day of class and say, “You may hear me say “chick” when I mean “cheek” and “bald” when I mean “bold,” but don’t let that fool you—I’m a pretty smart cookie…. And I will push you to learn and tell you when you mess up—just as I expect you to do the same for me!”

Thank you, Erma, for the lesson in courage.  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that only You I shall fear!

Maria Keckler is the Director of the Ezra Center for Excellence and Instructional Technology for Shadow Mountain Ministries. When she’s not writing—or teaching English—she’s helping others publish their stories at Stories from the Vine  or blogging.

* http://www.great-inspirational-quotes.com/erma-bombeck-quotes.html

** Erma Bombeck, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home,  (Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 1991), pp.112-113.

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