For This Day

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.  (Psalm 118:5-7)

Fear Not

(26/365 days of Fear Not)

For this day, I meditate on this truth.

For this day, I claim this promise.

For this day, I cry out to God.

For this day, and every day, I give thanks that when I cry out to my Father in heaven, He hears me.

He brings me into a spacious place where I can feel the freedom of His presence and bask in the glory of His creation.

The Lord is with me; He is my helper.

As I move through the days of this life and live out the dream that God has given me, I revel in the knowledge that God helps me to be who He calls me to be.

Doing Battle for Your Dream

Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.

The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.”

So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land. (Numbers 21:33-35)

Fear Not

(25/365 days of Fear Not)

As I walk through the scriptures to discover whether the phrase, Do not be afraid, indeed appears 365 times, I come across verses like the one quoted above and I can’t help but think, Okay, so it does say, Don’t be afraid, but how can that possibly be applicable to the average person today?

I’m not planning a march across foreign lands.

I’m not planning on running into enemy kings who want to challenge me on that journey.

I’m not planning on doing battle with anyone today.

Or am I?

Sometimes, it’s too easy to read passages about God taking down enemies of the Israelites and become confused, or even more, to question God’s motivation or His actions. (To that last one, I’ll simply say that He’s big enough to handle our questions, but even as He told Job, Where were you at the foundation of the earth? Did you stretch the plumb line by which I laid the foundation stone? Were you there singing with the angels when the earth, the sea, and the sky exploded into existence? There are things that God does that we cannot and will not understand.)

And so, back to this particular passage that tells Moses, and us when we read it, not to be afraid. God is about to deliver Og into the hands of Moses just like He did with Sihon.

Of course had Sihon and Og kept to themselves, neither would have been handed over to their death.

Moses wanted nothing more than peaceful passage through the land in order to reach his destination and they refused. They chose to stand in his way.

But I’m not planning to move through foreign lands.

Or am I?

Is my God-given dream and purpose one that moves against the culture? Is it one that challenges the status quo or the mediocrity or apathy with which the world has become too comfortable. Then I will be moving through foreign lands.

But I’m not planning on running into enemy kings who want to challenge me on that journey.

Or should I?

If my God-given dream and purpose is going to challenge the status quo and the selfishness and mediocrity that has fallen heavily onto the culture, will I not face the enemy of God as well as naysayers and haters as I move forward with God?

I’m not planning on doing battle with anyone today.

But I may.

Isn’t that why the Creator encourages me to put on the full armor of God every day? Because He knows that there will be spiritual warfare along the way. Especially if I am pursuing the dream and purpose that God planted in my heart long before I discovered it and began living it out.

Even so, as I face these moments and these naysayers and obstacles, God is with me. He assures me, Don’t be afraid. I’ll take care of this.

Isn’t that what He did when He entered the world as a baby? Isn’t that what He did when He died on the cross and rose from the grave?

When I live out my dream and my purpose with God, there is nothing I need to fear.

Nothing Greater

Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’

“But you all came to me and said, ‘First, let’s send out scouts to explore the land for us. They will advise us on the best route to take and which towns we should enter.’

“This seemed like a good idea to me, so I chose twelve scouts, one from each of your tribes. They headed for the hill country and came to the valley of Eshcol and explored it They picked some of its fruit and brought it back to us. And they reported, ‘The land theLord our God has given us is indeed a good land.’ (Deuteronomy 1:21-25)

Fear Not

(24/365 days of Fear Not)

There it is, before you. The dream. Your dream. Your passion and your purpose.

It’s just as God described it to you in your mind, your heart, your vision.

It’s your God-given purpose and dream.

And, still, it seems difficult to claim.

It seems unattainable.

Well, friends, that is a lie. It’s a lie from the enemy.

If God gave you a dream and a vision, He has provided you the means to attain it. He is with you.

But the enemy? He wants you to believe it’s impossible.

And, in that, he’s a little bit right.

Because with man nothing is possible. But, with God all things are possible.

Because greater is He who is living in you than he who is living in the world.

God has given you the desire. He has planted the seeds of your passion. He has put the land before you.

Trust Him.

The Promise Behind the Risk

Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. (Numbers 14:5-10)

Fear Not

(23/365 days of Fear Not)

Having an inner circle is important and never more important than when you are facing down fear.

Of course, in order to defeat fear, you need to be willing to heed the words of your inner circle. To accept their wisdom and to consider their perspective.

Especially if what you are about to do involves any sort of risk.

Consider Moses and Aaron.

They sent out a group of men to survey the land and to determine whether it was a land they should consider settling in. It was the land promised to them by God and yet many of those who went out to survey the land returned with a report that the risk was too great. They were afraid by what they saw.

And then, there were Joshua and Caleb.

They also went out and surveyed the land, but they came back with a whole other perspective. Their perspective was in tune with God’s perspective. They saw what God saw. They saw what God promised.

Yes, they, too, saw the risk of entering the land because they saw what the others saw: an enemy that seemed overwhelming and greater than the Israelites.

But Joshua and Caleb saw beyond the obstacle and into the promise.

They saw the land flowing with milk and honey.

They believed God and took Him at His promise.

They saw and believed that giving in to fear was rebellion against God.

And even though their community considered stoning them, still they spoke God’s truth: Don’t be afraid of them. They have no protection but the Lord is with us!

Do you have friends who will speak the truth into your dreams and into your purpose?

Do you have friends who will assess the risk in light of God’s promise and God’s wisdom?

Dreams and passion and purpose require community. And that community needs to speak truth and wisdom. They need to see beyond the immediate obstacle and into the land to which God is calling you.

Don’t be afraid of the naysayers.

Surround yourself with friends like Joshua and Caleb who can see the promise that lies beyond the risk.

The Paradox of Fearing God

And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:19-21)

Fear Not

(22/365 days of Fear Not)

When I read passages like this it reminds me how limited my human brain is. Because, honestly, this seems like several levels of contradiction and paradox and impossible rolled into a riddle: Don’t be afraid to approach God, but, be afraid of God.

What?

I’ve been approaching these Fear Not-related scriptures mostly in the order in which they appear in the Bible. Until I hit this one yesterday and decided to skip over it, to come back to it.

But, this morning, as I read through a devotional by John Piper, he referenced these verses and I decided it was time to come back to them here.

His interpretation gave me pause. Great pause.

The kind of great pause that gives you time to absorb the meaning and to become alive to a truth you didn’t know before that moment.

Until this morning, I’ve always heard that the references in scripture to fearing God had to do with revering Him. Having a holy reverence for His absolute holiness.

But John Piper introduced me to a whole new idea and that encouraged me to come back to these verses and include them in this journey through God’s word sooner rather than later. A journey to discover whether there are 365 references to not being afraid and a journey that draws us closer to God.

And these verses seem an important part of that journey.

Here, God is telling us not to be afraid to approach Him, to speak to Him, to enter into His presence and to have a relationship with Him. But in the very next breath, He tells us to fear Him. But don’t miss the caveat He includes: fear Him enough to keep from sinning.

In other words, fear His (acknowledged) wrath over and hatred of sin enough to avoid sinning.

But that’s not really possible, is it?

And that’s why this verse is so powerful.

Because here is where Piper’s interpretation drew me deeper into God’s presence: Let the fear of sinning against a holy and powerful and perfect God drive you into His presence so that He may be your refuge of peace and grace and mercy.

God knows we cannot avoid sinning and that’s why we need to stay close to Him.

That’s why we cannot be afraid to approach Him and to bask in His mercy.

Sin should scare us into the arms of God.

And in the arms of God, there is nothing for us to fear.

Steeped in God’s Reality

“If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments, I will send the rains in their seasons, the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. You will thresh until the grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting time; you’ll have more than enough to eat and will live safe and secure in your land.

“I’ll make the country a place of peace—you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear (Leviticus 26:5-6)

Fear Not

(21/365 days of Fear Not)

Sometimes if I’m not careful, I lose sight of what it is I’m doing? Does that make sense?

I set my sight on the thing I want to do and I become completely absorbed by it. Some may even say obsessed with it, trying to figure out every detail of what I need to do. To the point that the details become separate from the thing itself.

It becomes exhausting.

It becomes overwhelming.

It becomes joyless.

Even if it’s something that I feel drawn to.

Even if it’s something that I feel called to do.

Even if it’s something that is part of my God-given passion and purpose in the world.

Because here’s the thing.

God doesn’t call us to do alone what He gives us to do.

God doesn’t place a dream in our heart and gifts in our soul for us to sow alone, to harvest alone, to bake alone, to eat alone.

Dreams grow better in community.

And dreams grow best in partnership with God.

Listen to His invitation to you today: if you will live by my decrees and keep my commandments, I will do the rest.

Jesus said the same thing as He walked through this world and I love the way the Message puts it:

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:33)

Slow down.

Take a breath.

Whisper a prayer.

Sit with God.

Seek Him.

That dream your living out in your life?

Trust Him. Better yet, steep yourself in Him.

Steep yourself in Him. Isn’t that a wonderful word picture? Let the flavor of His reality and His ways enhance your moments.

Let Him meet your needs so that you can live out your passion in this world reflecting His love and His light.

As you heed Him, as you take Him at His word, you will discover that incredible supernatural peace that passes all human understanding.

You will sleep without fear because a life steeped in God is a life flavored by His peace, His provision, His purpose.

Writing Sprint: Brainwashed for the Cause

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

It’s time to practice our craft with a Writing Exercise. As always the Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for at least one other writer who’s included their link. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

{oh, and a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Brainwashed for the Cause

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

A Thirst for Research

“Staff meeting in fifteen minutes,” a female mechanical voice announced over the company speaker system. “Staff meeting in fifteen minutes.”

Oscar sighed and paused in his work, his mind once again wandering through possible exit scenarios. None of them were convincing enough for him to leave Crystal Communications, not with the way things were moving lately. He looked at the clock and willed it to stop so that he could put off the announcement at the staff meeting that Crystal Communications had finally mastered the breakthrough they’d been working on exclusively for the last 14 month.

On its face the Reverse Communication Capability System (RCCS) seemed innocuous enough, but Oscar had been the lead engineer at the system’s inception. He knew what its capabilities included and he’d become too well-versed in the development of the different components of the system to leave without question now.

“Staff meeting in ten minutes,” the female voice said.

Oscar glanced at his computer screen. The slide presentation was ready to go and he knew that the staff, some 250 employees, would be duly impressed with all of the technical jargon and sales predictions. This would mean major salary increases across the board and bonuses for the sales department on top of that.

“You ready?” Lou dropped into the chair across from Oscar and propped his feet on Oscar’s desk. “Big day for Crystal Communications,” Lou intoned in his best female mechanical voice.

“Final touches on the slides,” Oscar said.

“Such a company man,” Lou said.

At one point Oscar thought maybe Lou was one of the few independent thinkers left at Crystal, but he was no longer certain. It had taken him several months of painstaking research about a year ago, just a month or so after he started with Crystal Communications to figure out that there was something strange going on at the company and that it had something to do with the coffee and company lunches. He likened the employees to Stepford wives to his wife, Julia, a few days after starting work.

“There’s a strange uniformity,” he’d told her.

“In what way?” she’d asked.

“Thought process, mostly,” he’d explained. They sat there on the couch sharing a bottle of red wine and contemplating the possibilities. “Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there. I’ve been working almost around the clock.”

She’d looked at him and slowly shook her head. “That’s not like you. You trust your gut and do the research.”

“Staff meeting in five minutes.” The soft robotic voice drew Oscar back to his office and the impending presentation.

“Coffee cart time,” Lou declared. “Grab you something?”

“I’m good,” Oscar said and raised a thermos he’d brewed at home that morning. “Want some of this?”

Lou hesitated a moment, the bell of the coffee cart ringing faintly farther down the hall, approaching. “Yeah, you know what, I think I will.”

Oscar poured Lou a cup of his home brew and the two sat silently for a moment. Lou looked around and then got up and closed the door to Oscar’s office.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this meeting,” Lou said. Oscar noticed that Lou’s eyes seemed a little brighter than when he’d first sat down in the chair opposite him.

“Go on,” Oscar said. Although he knew the antidote he’d developed was powerful and took affect quickly, he needed to be sure.

Lou shook his head. “I’m not sure, but something’s just not right.” He took another drink of coffee. “I probably sound paranoid,” Lou said and laughed.

“I’m one to trust my gut and then do the research,” Oscar said.

“Research isn’t my thing,” Lou replied.

The two stared at each other across the desk.

After a few moments, Oscar said, “I might be able to help.”

“This coffee’s making me thirsty,” Lou said.

“I might be able to help with that, too,” Oscar told him.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Brainwashed for the Cause

Think about a job you really enjoyed at a specific company. Write the beginning of a story about how that company is trying to brainwash and manipulate it’s employers. The goal of the company may be unknown but is sinister.

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!