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May 9, 2012

A Fearless Book Review

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Fear.

The word resonated with so many of us, especially us girls.

Fear we will always be alone. Fear we will never have children.  Fear we may lose those children once we do have them.  Fear for our families. Fear for our nation. Fear of the world in which we live. In Max Lucado’s book Fearless, published by Thomas Nelson, these issues are addressed with sound scripture and bolstering faith.

I know for myself, while some of my greatest fears have been directly related to the well being of my immediate family that is certainly not the extent of them. I become fearful when God challenges me to step outside my box. The first hint of severe weather and I can kick into fight or flight mode. Fear that I have hurt someone. Fear of not being liked. So many avenues for fear to find its way into our lives.

In Fearless, Max Lucado confronts these avenues head on and provides biblically based barriers to fear. The first chapter is dedicated to looking at why we fear. What is the root cause? Are we the only ones who have been fearful? What is the impact of fear in our lives? The remainder of the book tackles specific fears such as,

  • The fear of not mattering
  • The fear of running out
  • The fear of worst case scenarios
  • The fear of what’s next

Each chapter has a specific verse relevant to that fear.

Just to give a few thoughts that spoke to me:

Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness….And it turns us into control freaks. (Chapter 1)

Acknowledge threats but refused to be defined by them. (Conclusion)

Jesus doesn’t condemn legitimate concern for responsibilities but rather the continuous mind-set that dismisses God’s presence. (Chapter 4)

We are constantly bombarded with things to be afraid of. If they are not from the news then they may come from our well meaning pears. From our kid’s report cards to our very own paychecks. We, as women, tend to carry the weight of all this with us. Fear plays on our emotions and can paralyze us. I highly recommend this book for any woman. Single of married. A mama or childless. Young or old. Mr. Lucado’s book will not only help you understand the ploy of the enemy that is tied up in fear, but the great victory that is yours through Jesus Christ as you become fearless!

We would love to read your thoughts if you have read this book. Share with us, build our faith, and let’s demolish the enemy with the word of our testimony!

2 Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


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Don’t Be Afraid, Just Believe

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Mark 5:35-36

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

These are the words Jesus spoke to a man whose daughter lay dying at home in her bed.  The man had sought Jesus out to beg Him to heal his precious child.  Just as word came that the girl had died, Jesus ignored what they said and told the man “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

As a parent, I can only imagine how that man felt at that moment.  He had a choice to make.  He could look at the reality that his child was dead and let his heart fall further and further into despair, or he could look at Jesus and accept His invitation not to be afraid and believe.

Jesus offers us the same choice every day as we live our lives in this fallen world.  We can look around us and see the reality that bad things do happen.  People get sick and sometimes die way too young.  Husbands get laid off. Wives have miscarriages.  Engagements get called off.  Friends betray us.  Teenagers make poor choices.

Jesus was able to tell Jairus not to be afraid in spite of the fact that his daughter had died because He knew what He was going to do.  He knew that before the end of that day, He was going to go to Jairus’ house and raise his daughter from the dead. Jesus knew the end of the story.

Jesus knows the end of our story, too.  He knows that for the Christian, death has already been conquered.  He knows that Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. ”For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”

I know that before this day is over, things will happen in my life and yours that could lead us to fear and despair. The same invitation Jesus gave to Jairus is offered to us.  Trust Him, don’t be afraid, and just believe that He has all situations under control.

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Connecting with Others – Do Not Fear…

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This past August, our church went through a transition time that sent everybody out to different churches in the city.  There were several reasons for this, but one of the things we found was that we could walk into a new place for us– the elephant in the room of seven newcomers- and no one would talk to us.  Why might that be?

These experiences made me think as well to times when I would purposely avoid a new encounter, or someone I was unsure of, and it made me wonder why.  Why did I do that?  Why did people look right at me in a new church and then turn their eyes and walk away as if I had never been seen?  Why did I do the same thing?

“I feel stupid.”

“I don’t want to bother her.”

“They already have friends – they don’t need me.”

Have you ever caught these thoughts wandering through your head?  The truth is, EVERYBODY has had these thoughts, and more than once I am sure.  These thoughts, while they might appear humble, are a form of self-centeredness.  When we are thinking these thoughts, we are in self-protection mode – and that is not faith.  Faith allows us to risk, not self-protect.  So what if someone thinks you are silly?  So what if someone doesn’t want to be your friend?  So what.  But the truth is, there is hardly a person out there not longing for connection and friendship.  Of this I am sure.

We all long to be seen.  Hagar, in Genesis 16 calls God “the God who sees me” and gains great comfort from this.  But I do believe there is a level that we don’t want to be seen and it is this that keeps us fearful and hinders our interactions with others – our fear of exposure.  Our fear that others will think of us the way we think of ourselves and that is just too great of a risk to take.

But God…

And not only but God, but God through Christ Jesus…

He has made us known through his Son.  And this knowledge penetrates every nook and cranny of our being.  And really, who are you more afraid of being known by?  Your neighbor next door?  Or the God of the Universe?

But God…

He already knows you.  And even more, having that knowledge, He loves you.  So if we need not be afraid because our Father in Heaven already knows us, exactly as we are, and knew us before He sent his Son to die in our place, then how much less should we fear other people and what they think?  And who knows who you can bless and comfort by overcoming your own fear?  My guess is, they’re afraid of the same thing.

What you long for is not unique.  It’s the heart that God put in each one of us.  A heart that longs to be known fully and completely. Do not withhold that heart from others…

And do not fear…

You are already fully known…and fully loved.

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Taken to Heart

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No one has ever accused me of being adventurous. I am a “stick with the plan” kind of gal. I don’t really like to try new things – well, maybe desserts, but not much else. I am not a fan of being challenged beyond my perceived limits. I like routine. I like knowing beforehand. I like security. Normally, that is not an issue, except when things change. Guess what? Change happens a lot. Daily it seems. The weakness in my pseudo armor of stability is that when change occurs, I worry. I fret. I struggle to not give in to fear.

One of my biggest, shall we say, opportunities to grow in this area has been in the raising of our two boys, especially the latter. When our youngest son, who I often refer to as Man Child 2 (MC 2), was born, I began to sing a song to him based on Joshua 1:5-7. The song goes like this,

Be strong and courageous/be strong and courageous/for the Lord your God is with you/He’ll never leave you or forsake you/be strong and courageous

I would put his or another family member’s name at the end of each verse and sing it over and over. It is a sweet little song that both boys request even today. The scary part is MC 2 seems to have taken those words to heart. There is not much that scares my youngest son. He is brave beyond his 5 years. I had no idea that when I laid the 10ft ladder on its side, after catching him perched upon the top, that he could pick it right back up and do it again. Nor did I have any clue that when the power went out and he said’ “Mom I am going to check on it,” he would actually go outside and lift up the main breaker box cover to see how things were. Wandering off in the woods by himself holds no danger in his eyes. He is fascinated by tornadoes. Strangers don’t bother him. One of his more recent fishing trips with his dad involved him kicking off his flip flops and sloshing around the pond with not a care or concern in the world. Needless to say he is never left unattended for long and we have multiple “teaching” moments each day.

While I know I can’t live my life through my kids, I have also learned that I can’t not live my life through them either. I can’t make them be worriers and fretters. I don’t want to make them be that. God has placed into MC 2 boldness unique to him. It is a trait that God has plans for. Although it is a trying trait at times, it is one I must not attempt to train out of him. I need to embrace who God has created him to be. I often joke that he will be a missionary to some remote country where they wear few clothes and eat whatever. Truthfully, the prospect of that scares me. I don’t know that I want to be the mom of a missionary who is fearless. Scarier to me though is the thought that I would squelch the boldness God has given him with my own insecurities. That I would somehow stop him from pursuing all God desires for him to be by vocalizing all my fears and worries.

I have to let MC 2 be who he was created to be. These few years together are a training period. I need to teach him wisdom and discernment. At the same time I need encourage the characteristics God has placed within him. My husband and I need to be tending those traits so they will grow and mature.

Still, there are those days when MC 2 is operating in the full force of his boldness that I start to rethink my choice of songs.
One simple little lullaby.

Honestly, though, if by that simple little lullaby the truth of God’s word is planted within my sons, it will have been worth it. I have a feeling in the not too distant future this mama will be singing that very same lullaby to herself. In those words she will find comfort and peace, regardless of the antics of her men children. If you are a mom, either physically or spiritually, you will find yourself in the same shoes one day. The degree of our children’s antics may vary, but we will feel fear and worry over them just the same. The good news is we can turn our children over to an all-knowing God who loves them, will never leave them, and will never forsake them. That, my sisters, security in the One who always has the plan, is a truth that can be taken to heart for generations to come.

In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.
Joshua 1:5-8 The Message

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