Three Ways to End Your Fear

Don’t be afraid.

The statement is repeated numerous times in the Bible. We are told, despite our natural instinct, not to fear. Fear, to me, was never paralyzing.  It is more a cold, blank sensation.

When Aiden was born, I stood in the delivery room and watched the nurses clean him off (a scheduled c-section). They hooked him to an oxygen monitor and I watched as his numbers started at 96 and gradually fell to 80. In this span of minutes, a NICU doctor was called in and they decided to give him a bed in the NICU.

He stayed almost a week before the fluid was clear from his lungs and stomach.

I’ll never forget watching those numbers fall and the glances the nurses exchanged with each other as he struggled to breathe. The fear in my heart implanted the images in my soul.

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Fear can be a catalyst.  When you stand at the Red Sea watching it part, you have two choices.  You can stay in danger or walk forward, facing the perceived greater danger, and see what happens. The unknown, even between walls of water, can unleash greatness on the other side.

Fear can be a dream. I remember having nightmares growing up.  One night a pair of cats were fighting outside my window.  The growls, scratches, and screams were surreal and seemed to be getting closer and closer. The darkness itself can bring condemnation and anxiety.  For some, dark nights carried the promise of no heat or electricity, hunger, or an abusive spouse or parent. In dreams, remember you will wake up. The sun will split the night and rise in the morning.

Fear can be control. This is the most dangerous. You are called.  Maybe it is a mission trip. Maybe a friend whose marriage is failing, maybe a family member mired in addiction. Maybe it is the business you are meant to start, the product that will change the world, the idea that can make a difference.  God puts this on your heart and you look in the mirror.

The small voice tells you that you can’t do it.  Not you. Not now.

What if you fail? Think of the laughter, the condemnation, the wasted time, money, and effort.

What if it all falls apart?

This fear is vanquished through community.  Find friends and colleagues making the same journey.  Look for resources in person and in the digital universe.  Find hope in a mentor who has been there already.  Find power in the permission to let yourself chase your dream.

Break the control of fear. The failure of not trying is always greater than giving it a shot. Step in the ring. You’ll be surprised at what can happen when fear is beaten down and destroyed. Even if you need to do it every day, it is worth the fight.

~Matt

Find Your Audience

One of the most important things we can do as parents, men, and believers is to find our audience.  We’re told to go, make disciples of the world. We are touched on the heart with the mission to share our faith and be present.

You may be thinking, what can I do?

Check out this article posted today at Bleacher Report.

Carl Lentz is a former college basketball player who found his way into ministry.  He connected with Hillsong church and helped to open their first US location in New York City. He also made friendships with some of the top stars in the NBA.

Lentz has officiated funerals for the families of NBA players, married players to their spouses, and even baptized Kevin Durant in the pool at his home.

So what can we learn from this athlete turned preacher/advocate?

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Photo Credit: Fuzzy Images via Compfight cc

Appearance doesn’t matter. The article mentions Lentz’s tattoos and mohawk haircut, even quoting one NBA player as being impressed that Lentz was not another “old white guy” behind a pulpit.

You are equipped for your ministry.

I’ll say it again, you are equipped for your ministry.  Your appearance, whether buttoned up or casual, relates you to an audience.  Never count yourself out because of your looks.

Size doesn’t matter. Hillsong NYC has eight services on a Sunday. They are located near Madison Square Garden. For NBA players in the city, it is a perfect spot. Your church may not match Hillsong’s size, yet those walking through the doors are there for a reason. I believe God draws people close every week.

Be prepared to reach out, whether your church is eighty or 8,000 people. Your handshake and hug may be the one that makes a difference in the lives of a new visitor.

-Your connection is already there. Lentz was a former college basketball player at N.C. State.  That gave him an instant bond over basketball. What do you do for a living? Find a community related to your talents and profession. If you are a contractor, you’ll have a bridge of connection with other construction people in your area.  If you are a lawyer, check out the law offices.

Find your peers and serve with them.  Lentz takes players to local homeless shelters to distribute food. He had players working with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, some driving to construction sites directly after practice.

Lentz shares the language of basketball.  Your language, whatever it may be, can be valuable to lift up and encourage those friends and family around you and that is our true calling.

We must make a difference and the time to start is now. You are in the perfect place and time.

Think about that and take the first step.

~Matt

Martyrs

In church today we has a message delivered by a missionary living in Africa. Our church supports over eighty missionaries in various spots around the world.  They are often asked back to discuss their ministries and each month we have a mission’s offering. The stories are always powerful and they are thankful for the support.  Living in this country, I know my viewpoint is skewed. I have trouble wrapping my mind around life in the world of the persecuted church. We can’t connect with the reality that there are believers facing death every day to live a life of faith.

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One of the television shows I loved to watch was True Life on MTV.  MTV hasn’t been responsible for great programming recently and forget about music, but True Life had some amazing episodes.  For those not familiar, it was a documentary following around multiple subjects based on a sentence description. Topics ranged from addiction to social issues, with characters tragic and funny. One show was based around three kids living as teenagers in Israel.  I remember one girl talking about the fear of violence every day on her walk to school. I couldn’t get my head around the image of being scared of walking in your neighborhood.  I grew up in a relatively small town and spent years walking home from school with the girl who I would marry years after our time in high school.

I remember buying one of the publications of Voices of the Martyrs. I devoured the book, filled with historical and current accounts of people dying for their faith.  Jesus consistently draws images from death.  We are told to pick up our crosses and follow him. We are told to lay down our lives. We are meant to live dead, spending each day in the knowledge that we are not home yet.

After each one of the messages on Sundays focused on missions, each person would ask if we felt the call of God to serve in a foreign country.  I never felt the pull to uproot my family and move across the world.  I feel like God has called me to serve here, now, in this community. That is the point behind this business and the Overcome book. You can serve where you live and, as you do, never forget those lose their lives for Christ. We are family, one body living for one cause. The stories of our brothers and sisters should serve to inspire us in our daily walks to know we will all worship one day, every tribe and tongue, surrounding the throne in Heaven.

~Matt