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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.”

Facebook?!

I woke up this morning with a heaviness and an urgency on my heart concerning the state of our believing body of Christ on social media. Over the past month or two, we’ve been blogging about, “The Power of Our Words,” “Are we awake?”, “Are our eyes open?”, and last week “Roots and Fruits. I had hoped that this would open some eyes and generate healthy Spiritual change, but I now feel the need to address the elephant in the room (or world) – Facebook. My Spirit is truly disturbed by things that I have seen on Facebook for some time. I’ll address those things in no particular order.

1. Is Facebook a reputable news source? NO, and emphatically NO! Please stop using Facebook for world news. I see so many things posted (or typically re-posted) from some site that people think is news, and yet it’s not from any respectable journalistic site, and half the time (or more), it’s not even true! It’s actually quite embarrassing that we, as Americans, are so gullible and lazy that we would just post something that looks like it supports our point of view without fact-checking anything. And, folks, posting false or misleading stuff puts your “friends” in a difficult situation. I mean, what, exactly, are we to do when a friend or relative posts something that’s blatantly false, short of pointing it out and making them feel stupid? Personally, I usually just delete it. Sometimes (If I’m really close to the person), I’ll message them and say it’s false. But realize, Saints, that this sort of reckless sharing of falsity is keeping the world blinded from the Truth of both the natural and the supernatural, and we have enough of that happening on purpose to not let it happen by accident. I know this because once, on 60 Minutes, a guy was being interviewed because he was one of the main instigators of the Pizzagate conspiracy on the web. He admitted to lying about the whole thing on 60 minutes, and so the interviewer asked, “Don’t you think your web viewers will resent the fact that you lied?” And he basically said, “Oh, they’ll never even know I lied, because they don’t ever watch 60 Minutes.” See what we’re up against? People lie to you and assume you’re not ever going to do the work to find out the truth. So, bottom line, Facebook is not news. Don’t treat it like news by posting without doing some serious verification. Better yet, test your posts to see if they’re loving and honor God. If they don’t, then don’t post them.

2. Stop feeding the hate machine! Most of what I see posted is done out of at least subtle hate, and this seriously troubles me. I get it. Everyone has an opinion, and most people don’t care what anyone else’s opinion is, especially these days. But your opinion doesn’t have to include hate. If you’re a follower of Jesus, this should worry you like it worries me, because I often see so-called Christians posting something about God, only to quickly follow that post with something about “hating Republicans” or “shooting liberals.” Stop it! As Joyce Meyer once said, “Just because I sit in my garage, that doesn’t make me a car.” And just because you say you’re a follower of Jesus does not mean you’re following Jesus. Facebook thrives on the constant novelty of posts being shared one after another, most of which contain blatant or even subtle notions of hate. It’s a machine, and its existence is based on the creation and sharing of ever-nastier memes. Every time we share one, we need to seriously ask ourselves, “Is there any part of this that I wouldn’t say to someone in person?” “Is there any part of this that would shock me if I read it in the Bible?” Look, I know that God created hate, but he did so to give us a righteous hatred for things that harm his people. I also know that we’re called sometimes to correct the saints, but when we do that, we do it with love. If you’re not sure if it’s hate – meaning, maybe, you just think it’s funny, or a clever way of showing you don’t like being politically correct – insert your own child or mother into the role of the object of the derision, and pretend it came from someone else. Then you’ll know what to do. Here’s a quick example. I happen to know a guy who posts things about God. Clearly, he’s a believer in God, and professes to believe in Christ. But I just went on his FB feed and saw two posts in addition to the God posts, one saying, “Always carry a knife with you, just in case there’s cheesecake or if someone needs to be stabbed,“ and the other a clear reference to hoping that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will die. Funny? Barely. Hate as their source? For sure. Would you want someone you didn’t know to joke about stabbing your daughter or hoping your mother might die? Of course not. So why re-post? Bottom line, don’t be a part of the hate machine.

3. Stop sowing spiritual confusion. More specifically, when we post things about God or scripture, and then follow those posts with hate, such as posts about “our” political party that are hateful of the “other” political party, we sow spiritual confusion. God’s people should be first and foremost illustrating the persons of God and all things Godly. We’re not perfect, but we should at least be striving to be better each day, constantly asking for guidance and forgiveness when we fall down. When we sow spiritual confusion, though, the world calls us hypocrites, and they’re RIGHT! This is the opposite of what God has in mind for us, for the Bible says that we’re to be the salt and light in the world – we’re called to be clear beacons and not to confuse the world. We’re to be the ambassadors of Christ to those who don’t know him.

4. Don’t be confused by the issue of judging versus correction. Not long ago, I re-posted an article with a picture of so-called “evangelicals” praying over the President. I was disturbed that these people were publicly displaying their work and wanting the world to see how great they were – which completely calls into question their motive. I was also disturbed that they were praying for President Trumps’ world and political agenda instead of praying over him for salvation, Truth, Light and behavior worthy of our Lord. When I posted this, though, I had a seeker ask me about it. He said he thought it was great that people were praying over the President, and he wondered how I, as a Christian, might think that was bad. That began a long conversation over correcting with love versus judging, and that’s a thorny issue for anyone. Mostly, he thought I was judging the President, when I thought I was mostly correcting the church. But that’s almost always too complicated to express on Facebook. Accordingly, after that conversation, I personally decided that I would be extra careful in what I post or re-post, and I have since decided to only “follow,” “like,” or express opinions of things worthy of my Lord so that my behavior or testimony will not turn a seeker away from knowing God or will not lead a believer down a wrong path. When I come to my final days, I do NOT want my legacy to be that I misled His people in any way! This doesn’t mean we can’t lovingly correct the church – my pastor does it, my prophet friends do it, my husband does it, and heck, because my ministry is “arming the saints,” this blog is often concerned with loving correction to better arm people for supernatural battles. Just don’t be surprised if people don’t understand the distinction. I encourage you to pick the most honorable and worthy path to show people the love of our Lord. Maybe it doesn’t involve correcting the church, especially if people mistake it for judging. This political season and our life in this world will pass away, but our belief is based on eternity, so err on the side of avoiding confusion.

5. Don’t be one of satan’s tools! Saints, my own personal opinion is that, whatever good something like Facebook brings to your lives, it also presents an enormous opportunity for the enemy to harness for his purposes of stealing, killing, and destroying God’s people. The Bible states that, “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Mt 24:11) Satan often uses imitation to deceive, and so he will continue to put up “prophets” that speak to his agenda and deceive believers. They’re false because they don’t speak the Truth. Accordingly, even if a follower of Jesus says he or she is a prophet (I’m one of those people who believes in modern day prophets – if you don’t know why, then that’s another blog!) we should not blindly follow them. Instead, we must continually test what they say. Even if it’s laden with scripture, test it! Ask the Lord to reveal the Truth of who they are. If they’re false, they’ll reveal it with a slip or a slant on the scripture that will prick up your ears. I’ve spent the last two years in fervent prayer asking God to open my eyes to the Truth of what’s happening in the world. God and I have an agreement that I always look for confirmation as to Truth and what He wants me to say so I don’t always go off half-baked or partially correct in my words. Don’t get me wrong – I still stumble, but the more I ask for spiritual awareness, revelation, grounding, and correct words – the less stumbling I do. Bottom line is that because Facebook is used by people for news, because it can be a machine of hate, and because it can sow spiritual confusion, satan will be using it.

6. Facebook is doing deep spiritual damage to the entire world! There’s a not-so-subtle chipping away at our civility and humanity by what goes on with Facebook. I’ve deleted comments from people physically threatening other friends on my feed, and, when I do, they sometimes complain that I’m “not following the first amendment.” And that’s just one blatant example. People think Facebook is anonymous, but everyone reads it. People think it allows them to argue with others, but they’d probably never do that in person. People think it allows them to “keep it real,” or to be “politically incorrect,” but often those phrases are simply justifications for past actions. People think it doesn’t hurt anyone, but we know of kids who have committed suicide over it. And, above all, people think that all of this hatred is allowed as some sort of American “right” of expression. All of these thoughts are wrong. Real people read posts and apply them to themselves, and they can be affected in ways that make the world a much worse place to live. And this happens, folks, millions of times a day, every single day. It causes families to argue, friends to stop speaking, and people to avoid other people altogether. I’ve personally been reluctant to visit even family, for fear that their posts reflect the way they’re going to behave in person. Here’s one small way that we can reverse that trend. My husband has “Facebook rules” that he applies to anyone who wants to comment on any of his posts. Rule number one, which is a good one, is that my husband will never, and I mean NEVER, post anything that is degrading or in opposition to someone on their own feed. That first rule is crucial to the rest of the rules, simply because the other rules apply to people who decide to post demeaning things on my husband’s feed. He claims that since he made that rule – which he’s had to post periodically – people have stopped coming on his feed to trash him. He’s also much, much calmer about what other people post, and he’s convinced that those other people are calmer about what he posts. What he’s done is to subtly insert a notion of mutual respect into Facebook. Now, don’t get me wrong, both his and other people’s feeds might be wrong or crazy, but at least – for those people and for my husband – there are fewer arguments (and thus less hatred) simply because they’re looking at Facebook as a personal opinion site, which they’re required to respect. I know people without that rule who feel compelled to respond and argue with someone else’s post. I also see people afraid to say something simply because they fear someone will come on and pick a fight. Think about creating your own personal rule of mutual respect for posts, no matter how crazy. Hey, it’s a start. The bottom line is that every single thing we say and do either uplifts or chips away at the spirit. We can decide which way it goes.

7. Is there any good in Facebook? Yes, and maybe that’s the problem because it does have benefits. Facebook is a great place to reconnect with friends and family and see what they’re doing in their lives. I love seeing pictures of vacations, time out with family/friends, hobbies, etc. Every morning, Tim reads a pastor’s mini-sermon that only appears on Facebook. He often says, “It’s also great for jokes and birthdays.” And, true enough, I have to admit that I love looking at the funny things that are on Facebook. I only look at it about once a week on the weekends, so that’s why you’ll almost always get delayed responses and well wishes late from me. And I love some of the funny (clean) jokes and videos being shared. My most recent favorite was a video of a dog carrying a plastic sled up a snowy hill and then hopping on it to slide down! I laughed out loud when I saw it, and It makes me giggle just writing it down here!

I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but now’s the time for us to speak for the Truth of what’s being put forth in the world and to stand up against the falsity. I encourage you to consider sharing this blog on your own Facebook page, even if you say, “Look at this crazy post!” More broadly, the Bible talks about a little bit of yeast getting into dough and permeating the whole batch (I Cor 5:6), so think hard about sharing only the kinds of posts that speak of God’s love and respect for others. Share posts about how to view Facebook in a Godly way. Share posts that uplift and edify. Share the Truth.

The Power of Words: Do they Dictate Your Path?

I thought I was finished, at least for the moment, talking about the power of our words, but the Lord has been impressing on me the extreme importance of this topic. I’m always looking for confirmation in things I dream, hear, or that are put on my heart to research or blog, and, once again, this topic popped up. This week I was given confirmation when the topic kept coming up in a discussion group with whom I meet, which is made up of developmental believers anointed as prophets. After that I heard a teaching by Glen Berteau on this topic as well. Glen taught a new dimension that I hadn’t thought of when it comes to our words, so I want to share this with you today.

Glen taught from James 3, which likens the tongue to the bit of a horse bridle or ship rudder.

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers [and sisters], this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers [and sisters], can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Using the bridle as an example, Glen mentioned how a 2,000-pound Clydesdale horse can be guided from right to left simply by attaching a tiny bit that weighs ounces into the horse’s mouth. Clearly, our tongues act much like this bit and bridle. Unlike the horse, however, we don’t always have the careful guidance of the rider to move us from place to place. Instead, we move ourselves by our words, and those words move us directly toward the thing of which they speak. This means, for example, that we can move toward positive (blessings) or negative (curses) positions based on those words.

For example, let’s say you get a medical diagnosis, and let’s say it’s bad, like cancer. You can move toward the cancer by constantly talking about it, how bad it is, how unfortunate you are, how your family genetics likely caused it, etc. Or you can move away from it by using words of healing and thanks to God for a long and healthy life.

As another example, we may find ourselves constantly talking about something or someone that simply isn’t in the will of God for our lives. As a theological concept, free will means that you can speak those words and move toward that thing or person. But don’t be surprised when you ultimately recognize that the thing or person wasn’t the best thing for you and something you likely could have known by holding it up to the Word.

It’s like driving on the highway. You tend to veer slightly toward the thing upon which your eyes focus. So, it’s not just a spiritual law; the notion that you’ll move ever closer to the things you think, say, and repeat is also true in the natural world. What makes it different is that in the natural world people don’t necessarily have the grounding needed to focus and make this law work for them.

People with a natural worldview might say that there is “power” in positive thinking, or that the “universe” somehow moves to bring things about when spoken in the right way. With a biblical worldview, we remember a few important truths. First, what comes from the tongue indicates what is in your heart – “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34) – but you can dramatically change your heart through your words, starting with words that confirm Jesus as God and asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) Second, God moves when people are expectant of his power: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24). Third, the Bible actually tells us what we should focus upon: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8-9) By the way, if you haven’t figured it out already, these things are somewhat circular. The more you speak in faith, the more your faith grows; the more positive your words, the more expectant of blessings you become.

Where is your tongue leading you – to life or to death? To blessings or to curses? To the spiritual best for you or to secular notions of success? Once again, I ask you to take your words and thoughts captive and to pay attention to what you’re thinking and what you’re speaking. Even if your situation does not bear witness to the blessing at the moment (for example, prayers for healing often find immediate purchase in the spiritual realm but take time to manifest in the natural) continue to thank our Lord for his work on the situation and for His continued blessing and protection for you and your family.


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