Archive for the 'Faith' Category

Fear or Faith?

I’ve watched the news reports on the Coronavirus over the past several weeks, and I’ve watched the fear growing in our communities and the world. I think it’s great that we have highly educated, highly intelligent people at the World Health Organization and our own Center for Disease Control working on containment and a cure. It’s also great that there are so many resources out on the Internet giving us information about how to prevent getting it ourselves. But I don’t see very much Spiritual information to keep us healthy, so let’s explore that in this blog titled, “Fear and Faith.”

Okay, at its most basic level, faith is complete trust, belief, or confidence. Fear, on the other hand, is the emotion caused when you think something is dangerous. Theoretically, you could have complete faith in something really bad, such as the possibility that a virus will attack you, and then it would be compatible with fear. But when I talk about faith, I’m talking about faith in God. And when I talk about faith in God, then I just don’t think we can operate out of faith and fear at the same time. That’d be like saying that it’s day and night at the same time (it just doesn’t happen, and don’t be trying to argue about eclipses and whatnot). Trust in God means that we fear nothing except being apart from God.

Fear

While God certainly created the emotion of fear, it’s used most often as a tool of the enemy to distract our focus from our worship of our Lord. I lump ordinary worry into this toolbox, too, because fearfulness causes us to worry about what might happen. Once I read where someone said that FEAR means, “False Evidence Appearing Real,” and that’s a pretty good way to look at it. Usually, once we’ve had time to reflect, we can see that what we feared is actually false. But for some reason, we have a tendency to at least initially believe and fear the false evidence. God knows this, which is why In the Bible, virtually every time an angel of the Lord appears to someone (like when the angel appeared to Mary) the first thing the angel says is “do not be afraid.” God knows how powerful fear can be if it’s not used for its proper purpose, and so He wants us to keep it in perspective.

There are several verses in scripture telling us not to fear. Most of us have heard the familiar 23rd Psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for you are with me.” Similarly, Psalm 46:1-2 states, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give away and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Psalm 91:4-5 states that with trust in God, “you will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” Isaiah 41:10 states not to fear simply because God is with us, and in Romans 8:15, Paul writes that as believers we didn’t receive a spirit that makes us “slaves” to fear.

The Bible speaks of the “fear of the Lord,” but don’t take that the wrong way. As Pope Francis correctly stated, “The fear of the Lord, the gift of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean being afraid of God, since we know that God is our Father that always loves and forgives us,…[It] is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.” It’s a reverential respect for our Lord and a fear of displeasing Him so that we strive to walk more intentionally in obedience and repentance.

Faith

Like fear, the Bible has a lot to say about faith and belief – with hundreds of references to both terms. By the way, as a rule of thumb in the Bible (and in life), if something is important enough to mention more than a few times in must be really important. That’s certainly true of faith and belief.

Our entire relationship with our Lord is birthed out of faith and belief and grows from these foundations. If the enemy wants to get us off track, all he really needs to do is to plant a bit of fear, doubt, or unbelief, and that automatically starts to erode our faith. He did it in the garden with Eve when he said, “You will not surely die.” Just a little bit of doubt, and suddenly everything changes. Fear is especially potent because it’s such a strong emotion. “Sure, I believe in God,” one might say, “but I’m really afraid that I might lose my job (or house, or health).” That sentence, and others exactly like it, requires a “but” in the middle of it simply because deep down we know that the two things – fear and faith – are foundationally incompatible.

So, how do we combat fear? Through our recognition of faith. And there are lots of ways to do that. I know from personal experience that the only way I can have a measure of peace in this tumultuous world is to constantly feed my faith through the Word of God. I’m routinely assaulted by outside influences, so I have to remind myself of God’s Word, and I have to be in the Word daily. Reading the Bible strengthens my faith, just as playing a lot of video games might strengthen my thumbs. It’s just a natural byproduct of the action.

But there are other ways to recognize and build faith. My husband spends a lot of time looking up answers to thorny theological/philosophical questions. The more he knows, he says, the stronger his faith becomes. You don’t have to start with such complex topics, though; you can build your faith intellectually by reading other authors’ books, articles, and blogs about faith or their stories of how they built their faith. Other, more “spirit walking” ways include prayer, meditating on the attributes of God, and talking with other followers of Jesus. That fact is – as I wrote before in my book – the more you go looking for God, the more you’ll see God at work. And seeing God at work automatically increases your faith. These days, I look at a car driving down the street and marvel at God’s creation.

Paul talks about faith being a shield (Eph. 6:14) that can deflect all of the arrows of satan, so it’s defensive in the sense that it blocks the lies and fear thrown at us daily to take us out of alignment with God. But faith can also be offensive, giving us the foundation to confidently wield the sword of the Word and spirit-filled prayer. That’s why Jesus said if we have faith even as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains. (Matt. 17:20) It’s faith that heals, faith that raises the dead, and faith that protects.

And that’s why our faith in God should cause us to look at this virus – or any virus – differently. Remember, saints, that although we are in the world, we are not of the world, and we are indwelled with the Spirit of the God who created the universe. So, bottom line, is that our faith should erase any fear of disease. Now here’s the hard part: that doesn’t mean that we won’t get a disease. And it doesn’t mean that we won’t die from a disease. It means that we shouldn’t fear it.

Throughout my book, I talk about understanding the supernatural world, but not forgetting to do the natural world things. So, yes, wash your hands! Cover your cough! Don’t sneeze on your friend! Sure, go ahead and buy supplies – you ought to do this anyway, by the way – and try to limit your exposure to places and things that can give you an illness. Do all this “world” stuff. But don’t worry, because your life in this world is only a prelude to the eternal.

Last week our pastor said that he had zero fear of the coronavirus, simply because if he got it, he’d either come through it on this side, surrounded by nurses giving credit to doctors and drugs, or the other side, surrounded by the angels of heaven singing praises to God. Either way, fear simply shouldn’t enter into it.

Faith Not Fear

This isn’t the first big virus, and it won’t be the last. And yes, one day it will be this or something else that takes you home. My personal belief is that God keeps us alive so long as we are completing our calling – the thing that God wanted us to do to grow the Kingdom. I call this a sort-of “spiritual immunity,” and it keeps me constantly working, making sure that when I do get called home I haven’t been called because I gave up. There’s really no time for fear in a life like that.

So, continue using your own spiritual immunity by helping others to see what a follower of Jesus looks like when he or she presented with something people think is fearful. Show them a life without fear. A life with faith. A life walking in the Spirit of God.

Romans 10:17 states, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” And the word of Christ, in this instance, is saying “do not fear.”

Palm Sunday! Palm Sunday!

palm

Every Palm Sunday I’m reminded at how quickly things can change. Just five days after Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he was crucified. But just two days after that, he rose from the grave to bring salvation to the world for all time.

Your life might take a bad turn, and it might take that turn fairly quickly. But remember that God is there to turn you back around even quicker. All you have to do is call on Him.

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone, and my God bless you all!

Particle Physics and God

particle

I recently watched a fascinating documentary called “Particle Fever” that chronicles the search for the Higgs boson, which is sometimes called the “God Particle.”  The nickname is a bit controversial, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the substance of the documentary and the interesting all-or-nothing scenario that it set up.

You see, right now scientists explain the universe mostly by using a theory called the “Standard Model” of theoretical particle physics, which has been very good at predicting much of what experiments in physics have actually found. As described by the various scientists in the documentary, formulation of the Standard Model is the result of roughly 400 years of work, in which scientists have gradually found that the universe is something enormous yet simple, seemingly complex yet incredibly elegant and symmetrical. Indeed, symmetry (in the sense of how parts might integrate into a whole, might remain consistent and or unchanged despite any kind of transformation, and can exist independent of specific dynamics) is the kind of elegant order that begins to hint most strongly toward intelligent design, or God.

In addition, the Standard Model relies on what are called “fundamental constants,” which are numbers that determine the entire structure of the universe. Now these constants get pretty complicated, but for now just realize that everyone – from God-believing scientists to complete and total atheists – understand that these numbers are far too precise to be based on chance in just this universe. In the documentary, one scientist explained that his knowledge of this incredibly precise fine tuning naturally led him to question whether he was wrong about everything he had learned and believed on some fundamental level. What he meant was that it’s hard, if not impossible, to square this incredible precision with a Godless universe. It’s that exact.

Now if you make enough scientists question their worldviews, you’ll end up getting a new scientific theory so that they don’t have to question those worldviews anymore. And the theory that some scientists ultimately came up with to help them explain this incredible fine tuning is called the “multiverse theory.” That theory speculates that our universe is actually only one of multiple possible universes – so many, like millions or billions (the kinds of numbers evolutionists like to use) that those really precise numbers that make up our fundamental constants might still only be random. If you have a billion universes, so the theory goes, one might randomly end up like our universe – which looks so precise that it must have been created by some intelligent being, but which is really created by chance. This can get a bit complex, too, so if you want to see a more detailed write- up about the multiverse theory versus intelligent design, go here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/multiverse-and-the-design-argument.

But for now, just realize that the Standard Model absolutely predicted something like the Higgs boson as one of its essential particles, and so the documentary that I watched showed scientists using the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva Switzerland to try to detect it. Everyone figured it was out there, but they had different theories about what it would mean to the universe and, indeed, to the future of physics. And all of that depended on not only finding the Higgs, but also learning its mass.

The reason scientists needed to know its mass was because a “light” Higgs boson is the kind of thing that would correspond to the symmetry of the Standard Model, and even helps lend credence to what’s called “supersymmetry,” in which additional particles might likely be discovered to build a complicated but even more elegant way of describing the universe. A “heavy” Higgs, on the other hand, would tend to point to various theories using the concepts of the multiverse. But here’s the rub: if, in fact, the multiverse theory were to be confirmed, it would mean that everything in our universe might be completely random, caused not by intelligence but chaos. And if that were true, then physicists could never be sure that they’d ever find answers to anything else because the answers to any number of questions in a multiverse theory might only be found in other universes, which means that we might never find them at all. In fact, most everybody in the documentary felt like a heavy Higgs might mean the end of physics altogether. Pretty dramatic, huh?

So the movie came down to this. If the Higgs mass was about 115 times the mass of a proton, it would point to supersymmetry. If it was about 140 times the mass of a proton, it would point to multiverse. Order and elegance versus chaos, or, as some people might speculate, God versus no God.

All of this is interesting, but sometimes I think that people miss the forest for the trees, or the universe for the particles in this case. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) We have been without excuse since creation, and now we have even less of an excuse to clearly see and know the existence and glory of God. Back in the day, scientists like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Louis Pasteur, and countless others worked within their knowledge and belief of the existence of God and with the notion that their discoveries were guided by God. The famous astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, wrote, “I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for ‘the heavens declare the glory of God.’” (quoting Psalm 19:1).

Why, then, do so many people miss what is so obvious to others? Why do they reject the notion of God so adamantly that they’ll create theory after theory to debunk any idea of intelligent design?  I think the reason is found in two separate scriptures. First, in 2 Peter 3:5, Peter writes that people will “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” And through this deliberate forgetfulness, since they “d[o] not know the righteousness that comes from God [and they seek] to establish their own, they [do] not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3) In short, people forget what is obvious to the rest of the world because they simply don’t want to serve anyone. They want to be their own god. But hey, as Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Anyway, back to the Higgs and the documentary. Now I personally don’t need to know the mass of a particle to convince me that God exists. And I assume that if the Higgs came back light and the multiverse theory was somehow discredited, people who simply don’t want to believe in God would figure out some other theory to cast doubt. But leave it to God Himself to remind us who is in control here. Because when they ultimately found the Higgs – and they did – its mass was exactly dead center between 115 and 140, which left both sides scratching their heads. We thought we had it all figured out. We thought it was all or nothing. But God said it was neither. It was something else entirely. It’s not so much the “God Particle” as it is simply one of God’s particles. Like everything else, God created the Higgs, and its mass is what it is. Now deal with it.

And finally, why in the world would I write about this interesting natural world drama in a blog about the supernatural? Well, because in the middle of the documentary, during one of the trial runs for the Large Hadron Collider as they were counting down toward the test, something truly fascinating happened. During that countdown from five to one, at just around minute 27:51 of the documentary, the camera cut to a young scientist waiting for the test to begin. And as the countdown reached three, she closed her eyes and briefly bowed her head. I think she prayed.

It’s True. All of it.

Denise took me to Star Wars the other day, and all I can say is, WOW! We decided not only to see the movie, but to see it in HD, 3D, IMAX, etc., and it was truly amazing. I swear there was one point in the movie when some starship looked like it was literally sitting in the seat next to me. And at another point, a guy from a few rows down went out for drink or something, and I thought he was a Stormtrooper dashing across the screen. For a brief moment, life and art were one. The whole thing was almost worth the price of the popcorn, for which Denise and I had to take out a short-term loan.

kylo-ren-rey-s-connection-revealed-in-new-star-wars-episode-7-photos-rey-and-finn-pre-710348

Anyway, the reason that little excursion makes it into a blog about the supernatural is because the movie itself kind of overflows with a good and evil, God and Satan sort of tale. I knew that going into it, and then Harrison Ford summed everything up. When Rey was asking Harrison’s character, Han Solo, about all the stories she had heard over the years, Han replied, “It’s true. All of it. The dark side. The Jedi. They’re real.”

It reminded me of what might happen today if someone was able to meet up with one of Jesus’ apostles, like maybe John. That person might ask, “Hey, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy stories in the Bible, and a lot of people think they’re fairy tales. What’s the deal?” At that point, I’m sure John would say, “It’s true. All of it. God. Satan. Jesus. The supernatural. They’re real.”

But all of that begs the question, which has been posed most forcefully by Del Tackett from the Truth Project series. During that series, Del often asked, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real? Because if you really believe that what you believe is real, then Christians will change the world.” He’s right. If we acted as if we really believed everything in the Bible, our actions would look radically different not only to the rest of the world, but likely even to us.

What if we really believed that we were created in God’s image, that Jesus is God come in the flesh, and that by having faith in Jesus Christ we are able to live as eternal beings with God? And if we really believed that Jesus Christ is God, wouldn’t we strive every single day to act in ways pleasing to Him? We believe in the laws of the natural world, and we act accordingly. So what would our lives look like when we really believe in the supernatural?

I’ve spent many years studying various aspects of different worldviews and I’ve come to believe that there is universal truth, which points directly to Jesus and the Bible. That, in turn, has dramatically changed how I live my life. I don’t worry so much anymore. I walk in the supernatural. I fight demons. I talk to God. I talk to other people about God. I follow His will even when those in the natural world think I’m nuts. I know I’m about as far from perfect as someone can be, but I understand the concept of perfection and where to go to learn more about it so I can get better. If you don’t feel as confident as I sound, keep searching. Because if you go looking for truth – or, as Denise calls it, “Truth with a capital T” – you’re going to run smack into Jesus.

You aren’t going to have John the apostle or even Harrison Ford show up in person to tell you that everything is “really real,” but Jesus knew that. He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)  You can strengthen your beliefs and come to know Jesus better through a variety of other sources – most importantly through the Bible – because you’re hard wired to recognize Truth. Start looking, and I’m sure you’ll come to believe that God, Satan, Jesus, and the supernatural are true. It’s really real. All of it.

May the Force . . . er, I mean, may God be with you!

Measure of Favor

We just talked about walking in favor, but today I was given an additional message. I never discount additional revelation on a topic whatever the source – radio, books, the Word, a message from my pastor, dreams and visions, or speaking with another believer when the topic is brought up and discussed. So I was pleased this morning as I was getting ready for worship to see a church TV pastor, Joel Olsteen, talking about us having “a flash flood….of favor of God profusely abounding in our lives.” This reminded me that in addition to our faith and belief, our measure of favor is limited only by our own level of obedience.

The entwining of obedience and favor should not be unfamiliar to us because it’s depicted in nearly every supernatural event in the Bible. Sometimes, its’ portrayed in negative terms – that is, through disobedience and the removal of favor, such as the sacking of Judah and the delivering of the Jewish people into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Nevertheless, our Lord prizes obedience more than any other work we can do to please Him, and he rewards obedience in the same measure. You might recall that Daniel wasn’t eaten by the lions when thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel 6:22 states, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.” Like Daniel, Joseph was also given a flood of favor through his obedience. Recall how Joseph was promoted and treated while a slave in Pharaoh’s house because he continued being obedient to God and didn’t dwell on revenge on his jealous and wicked brothers.

So let’s continue to walk in obedience to God and call forth and walk in the flood of favor our Lord has reserved for us! Think big, ask big, walk big, and receive a big measure!


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