Tag Archives: fear

THE ROD, THE STAFF, AND THE ODDLY PLACED TABLE

[This is the third of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me;

Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil.

My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.   Psalm 23

Almost everyone has heard this Psalm, at least at funerals. During my scariest times in ubiquitous darkness I frantically repeated it over and over in my mind, and sometimes out loud. The most memorable time when the Psalm brought comfort to me was when I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with an allergic reaction to a cancer medication. Continue reading

Is It OK to feel this way? (part two)

You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul… I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. I have become like broken pottery. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!”     (Excerpts from Psalm 31)

  • Are you comfortable with the kind of emotion exhibited in this diary entry of David’s?
  • Is it OK with you that he, the “man after God’s heart,” felt anguish, distress, sorrow, grief, groaning, weakness, and terror?
  • Does it surprise you that he had days in which he was afraid to get out of bed?
  • Are we bad Christians for feeling what we feel?
  • Are some emotions bad and others good?
  • Shouldn’t we be happy all the time? After all, we are God’s people.
  • How could we have faith and, at the same time, be depressed?
  • What do we do with these intense feelings that we have at times?
  • Do we disregard them, deny their reality, or try to get rid of them at any cost?
  • Should we be using some spiritual formula to overcome them? Continue reading

Is It OK To Feel This Way? (part one)

My friend Dennis asked me if I doubted God during the dark times. “Doubted his fidelity or reality?” I wanted to know. He said the latter. That was easier.

“No,” I said, “I was too p***** at him to doubt that he existed! Of course there’s a God, but I just didn’t like him very much at the time.” Continue reading

Treating Timidity (part eight)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  2 Timothy 1:6-8

Finally the final post, yet not nearly the final word, on Paul’s antidote for timidity. I’ve spoken about such things as slaying lions in snowy pits, about how God doesn’t give a pass to the more “naturally” timid among us, about the difference between fear and fearfulness, that we should be ashamed to be ashamed of Jesus and his friends, how the Holy Spirit infuses us with courage to charge forward, and finally, how power and love specifically counter the fearful disposition. Now let’s conclude with how “self-discipline” has a deleterious effect on a spirit of fearfulness.

“Self-discipline” is, to me, the least obvious piece of Paul’s prescription in the treatment of timidity. What’s the connection here? How does having self-discipline counter my fears about doing God’s will? Remember that the context here isn’t so much about our phobias (heights, small places, flying machines, puppies…) as much as it is about our reticence to follow God in his eternal undertakings and to use our gifts in order to bring glory to the Giver. So, how does self-discipline help us do that? Continue reading

Treating Timidity (part six)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.  2 Timothy 1:6-8

The Spirit, a spirit, or what?

What is a spirit of power, love and self-discipline”? Is he talking about the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, a right spirit (as in, attitude) – or all three? You probably know that, in the Bible, the word “spirit” can be seen in all those ways and it usually takes the context to decipher the difference. I think Paul might have had in mind a montage of these meanings. In other words, the Holy Spirit, who lives in our human spirit, enables us to have a healthy spirit. Continue reading

Treating Timidity (part five)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God… 2 Timothy 1:6-8

[OK, I keep predicting – even promising – an end to this “conversation” on timidity, and keep saying that I’m going to talk about how “power, love, and self-discipline” counter our fearfulness. But you know how preachers are! We know how to take off and fly around in circles, but the landing part is an altogether different skill that most of us haven’t acquired. I keep finding other things to include, and in this case I feel a need to look at how the tentative expression of our faith might well be influenced by how we feel about his people, the Church. Last time I asked you:  Are you ashamed of Jesus? My next question is… ]

Are you ashamed of his followers? Continue reading

Treating Timidity (part three)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God… 2 Timothy 1:6-8

In parts one and two we’ve established that, compared to his mentor, Paul,  Timothy was young, sickly, shy. How does that affect his counsel to his protégé? And…

Does God give “a pass” to the timid?

Because his ministry was hard for him, do you get the impression that his mentor let Timothy off the hook? Can you hear Paul say, “You’re not a natural at this, so why don’t you find something easier to do for God? — You’re sick and scared, so maybe you should rethink your ministry and sign up for something safer. Plus, I know it’s especially hard for you since you didn’t have a dad to show you how to be a spiritual man, so why don’t you take the next decade or two to work on your inner healing before you launch out into any sort of spiritual responsibility.” Continue reading