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change your life.

change your world.

Vol 13 • Issue 2

HIGH RISK, HIGH REWARD Taking calculated risks

The “I-Ness” of Shyness Conquer self-consciousness

Breaking Down Fear Relief is here


Vol 13, Issue 2

Browse our website or contact one of the distributors below to enjoy the inspirational, motivational, and practical help offered in our books and audiovisual material.

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Activated Ministries P.O. Box 462805 Escondido, CA 92046–2805, USA Toll-free: 1–877–862–3228 Email: info@actmin.org www.activatedonline.com

PE R S ONA L LY SPE A K IN G Like life itself, the Bible is full of triumphs that could just as easily have ended in disaster. If the heroes in those stories had turned and run the other way, who could have blamed them? Moses defied the world power of his day to lead his people to the Promised Land. Gideon led a band of 300 against an army too large to number.1 Samson, armed only with the jawbone of a donkey, took on an army singlehandedly.2 Teenaged David, with only a slingshot, denounced and trounced the giant Goliath, who had the entire army of Israel shaking in their sandals.3 Most of us can be thankful that we don’t face whole armies or heavily armed giants, but we all have fears of one type or another, what-ifs that sometimes descend in legions or loom over us like Goliaths. Like our shoe size, they start small and grow with us. What if I fall off my bike? What if my teacher doesn’t like me? What if I don’t make the team? What if I try to kiss her? What if I don’t get accepted at that school? What if I lose my job? What if this turns out to be cancer? What if I lose the love of my life? We first learn to deal with childhood fears by running to our parents for security and reassurance. We crawl into bed with them during a thunderstorm. We ask to be carried in the dark. We take hold of a strong hand when a strange dog approaches. Little by little, our parents help us learn to differentiate between real and imaginary dangers, and how to confront the real ones. God wants to do the same with our adult fears. “You aren’t in this alone,” He assures us. “Take My hand. We’ll make it through this together.” Keith Phillips For Activated

1. Judges 7 2. Judges 15:9–15 3. 1 Samuel 17:2–11,32–51 2

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Activated Australia +61 2 8005 1938 Email: info@activated.org.au www.activated.org.au Editor Design Production

Keith Phillips Gentian Suçi Samuel Keating

www.auroraproduction.com © 2011 Aurora Production AG. All Rights Reserved. Printed in Taiwan by Ji Yi Co., Ltd. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Other Bible references are from the following sources: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. Contemporary English Version (CEV). Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.


Learning to Trust By Josie Clark

I’ve always loved cats and felt that I had a way with them, but I met a challenge in J.J. and

Felix. They were a gift from my daughter-in-law. Toni had started feeding their mother, a feral cat, shortly before she succumbed to the perils of street life. When J.J. and Felix moved in with me, they quickly hid under beds. Our relationship began with me lying on the floor and reaching out to them. Initially my overtures were met with fear, but after days of feeding them, putting fresh water in their bowl, cleaning their litter box, and softly calling their names, they learned to trust. Eventually they began to come to me in the evenings, when the house was quiet, and allow me to pet them. I felt as though I had my reward when they would nuzzle up against me, purring. I assured them over and over that they were safe and that I would always care for them, and it seems they got the message. In a way, they remind me of myself—the part of me that holds back and hides away, always a bit shy and wary of strangers, a little fearful of completely trusting anyone, even God. I recently did a Bible study from the book of Psalms on the subject of trust. In psalm after psalm, King David expounded on his many problems, but sooner or later he always hit on the solution: Trust the Lord. You’ve got nothing to worry about, because He will work things out.

Josie Clark is an Activated reader and contributor in the U.S. ■

T r u s t — A P s a l m s Sa m p l e r •

Trusting God means giving our burdens and worries to Him. Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you: He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.—Psalm 55:22 • Trusting the Lord frees us from fear. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.—Psalm 56:3 He will not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.—Psalm 112:7 • Trusting God gives us the ultimate security. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”—Psalm 91:1–2 • Trusting puts us in line for God’s blessings. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. —Psalm 2:12 Oh, how great is Your goodness … which You have prepared for those who trust in You.—Psalm 31:19 ■ 3


, K IS

R H H G I HIG H

By Peter Amsterdam

When you get an outof-the-box idea or an opportunity arises that would be a departure from your normal way of doing things, your immediate reaction

might be to play it safe—to shy away from the idea, or to hesitate to capitalize on the opportunity because it’s new and untried and seems risky. But if you wait too long to decide what to do, the opportunity may pass you by. At times like that, you need to calculate the risk. It’s not merely a matter of being willing to take risks, because that can also lead to recklessness. Taking calculated risks is about assessing potential gains versus potential losses, and making wise decisions accordingly. You do sometimes need to risk failure for the sake of the 1. Jeremiah 29:11 2. Psalm 84:11; 1 John 5:14–15 3. Jeremiah 33:3; James 1:5

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potential rewards, but generally there should be a greater probability for a positive outcome than a negative one. The keys are first to understand the odds, and second to do whatever you can to improve them. Military strategy makes a good analogy. Defensive strategy tends to play it safe. But caution and selfpreservation can’t be an army’s only considerations. If they were, that army would never manage to gain new territory. Successful strategies include taking risks, departing from the norm, doing the unexpected, and seizing the moment. It’s difficult to decide to do something that involves a high degree of risk, even when there is potential for great reward, but life is full of such situations. Here are a few points to keep in mind the next time one comes your way: Assess the time factor. Few windows of opportunity stay open permanently. Sometimes the

choice to pursue or not to pursue a certain opportunity must be made rather quickly, but don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a hasty, ill-advised decision. Study the situation. Thoroughly and objectively consider the pros and cons, and calculate the odds for success as best you can. Then try to determine what you can do to improve those odds. Learn from others. Try to find accounts of others who have taken similar risks, and examine why they succeeded or failed. Include God in the decisionmaking process. God can and wants to help things turn out well for you,1 and He will if you’re in tune and in step with Him.2 He sees the whole picture, and He will help you see it more clearly if you ask Him to.3 Don’t abandon common sense. Risk-taking is not about abandoning common sense, and neither is trying


POINTS TO PONDER

Ta k i n g R i s k s a n d O v e r co m i n g F e a r

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.—André Gide (French writer, humanist, and moralist; 1869–1951) Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.—Herodotus (Greek historian; 490–430 bc) to find God’s mind on the matter. God wants us to exercise our faith in Him, and He does sometimes work in mysterious ways, but He also gave us the power to reason for a purpose. He expects us to think things through. Be willing to take action. You can’t afford to be impulsive, but you also can’t wait for everything to be perfect and risk-free; you need to be prepared to commit when the time is right, to seize the day. If a seemingly golden opportunity should come your way and it’s right for you, you can be sure that God planned and orchestrated it. When that’s the case, a calculated risk can become the gateway to success.

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.—Søren Kierkegaard (Danish philosopher, theologian, and author; 1813–1855) Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first base. —Frederick Wilcox (dates unknown) Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life

is either a daring adventure or nothing.—Helen Keller (deaf and blind American author, political activist, and lecturer; 1880–1968) We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies just the other side of failure.—Leo F. Buscaglia, (American author and motivational speaker; 1924–1998) The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!—General George S. Patton (United States Army officer; 1885–1945) Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.—T.S. Eliot (American poet, playwright, and literary critic; 1888–1965) ■

Peter Amsterdam and his wife, Maria Fontaine, are directors of the Family International, a Christian communit y of faith. ■ 5


By Tomoko Matsuoka

BREAKING DOWN FEAR

It is widely believed that we are born with only three fears: fear of loud noises, fear

of falling, and fear of abandonment. These, according to some psychologists, are hardwired into our nature; all others are acquired. Fear of spiders, fear of the dark, fear of dentists, and the rest are programmed into our psyche through either firsthand experience or information we take in. Fear is a vital response to danger. If, when walking down a dark unfamiliar street at night, your pulse quickens, your breathing becomes shallow, and you feel a tingling at the nape of your neck, that’s your brain sending signals to your body that you may be in harm’s way. You decide to turn onto a brightly lit street, or to slip into a store and call someone to pick you up. Fears generally fall into two categories: legitimate fears—those that warn of a genuine threat, either physical or emotional—and unfounded fears that are born of one’s imagination and have little or no basis in reality. The trouble is, our brains have difficulty telling the two apart and will often react to both in the same way: increased activity in the brain’s amygdala area1 activates our fight-or-flight response. One method therapists use to help a person overcome fear is through controlled exposure to whatever is causing the fear response, such as heights or spiders. 1. The amygdala has been called the seat of emotion 2. See Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28. 3. www.mywonderstudio.com 6

When the fear is not realized—in other words, when the feared consequence repeatedly does not take place—the mind is retrained to not react in fear when confronted by the supposed threat. Other fears are harder to overcome because they are not tied to a physical situation or agent. Rather, they are internal, having to do with worry and insecurity. Analyzing them to separate reality from misperception usually helps, and our greatest source of understanding, comfort, and relief from such fears is God Himself. When we have the assurance that He has our best interests at heart, stands with us in the present, has planned our future, and promises that all things will turn out for good in the end,2 it puts things in perspective and fears recede. God has provided relief from both types of fear through a personal connection with Him. We make that connection through prayer, and we strengthen it by reading and studying God’s Word, believing His promises to us therein, and applying them in our daily lives. The more we learn to turn to and depend on God, the more He is able to help us overcome our fears. Tomoko Matsuoka is a content developer for My Wonder Studio, 3 a Christian characterbuilding website for children, and lives in Chiba, Japan. ■


Feeding Reading

Freedom from fear By Samuel Keating

▶ God is our best defense against fear—and

against the things we fear. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.—Psalm 46:1–2 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.—Psalm 91:14–15 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.—Proverbs 18:10 I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’—Isaiah 41:13 Do not fear. ... When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.—Isaiah 43:1–2 NIV

▶ God will replace fear with peace.

Now acquaint yourself with [God], and be at peace. —Job 22:21 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.—Proverbs 3:24

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6–7 NIV God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.—2 Timothy 1:7

▶ With God beside us, we have nothing to

fear. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?—Psalm 27:1 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?—Psalm 56:3–4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.—Psalm 23:4 NIV Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.—Isaiah 12:2

Samuel Keating is Activated’s production coordinator and lives in Milan, Italy. ■ 7


By John Weaver, adapted

Once upon a time there was a little girl who spent her days sitting beside a pond, watching a frog

on a lily pad. The little girl knew that the frog was probably a prince, and the frog—who was indeed a prince— knew that the little girl could kiss his nose and break the magic spell that a wicked witch had cast on him. But the little girl on the bank of the pond was too shy to begin a conversation with the frog, and the frog simply could not bring himself to tell her how badly he wanted her to kiss him. So the little girl went on sitting there, watching the frog. And that is the end of the story. Sadly, this sort of thing happens all the time in real life. Think of all the beautiful relationships that could have blossomed but never did, the Romeos that never embraced their Juliets because both of them were too shy to make the first move. Or, think of all the Carusos, Mozarts, and Rembrandts that the world will never know because they were too shy to let their gifts be seen by others, the

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“My first language was shy. It’s only by having been thrust into the limelight that I have learned to cope with my shyness.” —Al Pacino (American film and stage actor and director; b. 1940)

bottled-up geniuses who never dared to express themselves. While some people are naturally open and can talk a blue streak, others are more introverted, withdrawn, reticent. But most people who suffer from “inhibited social contact initiative syndrome”—as some now call what was once simply termed shyness—don’t want to be that way. They would like to be able to interact with others more freely, but it is very hard for them to break out from behind the walls that hold them prisoner. Shyness is usually a combination of fear and self-consciousness. When we’re shy, it’s often because we’re worried about what other people might say or think about us, especially if we’ve heard it before or think it ourselves. Maybe we think we’re too tall or too short, or too fat or too thin, or ugly, or whatever. That was Cass Daley’s problem. She wanted to be a singer, but she was very self-conscious because of her large mouth and buck teeth. When she began singing in nightclubs as a teenager, she tried to hide her buck teeth behind a down-stretched

upper lip. The result was that she made herself look ridiculous. One night, a man heard her sing, recognized her exceptional talent, and wasn’t too shy to tell her the truth. “See here,” he said to her bluntly, “I’ve been watching your performance and I know what it is you’re trying to hide. You’re ashamed of your teeth.” Cass was embarrassed, but the man continued, “What of it? Is there any crime in having buck teeth? Don’t try to hide them. Flaunt them! The audience will love you when they see that you’re not ashamed. Besides, those teeth you’re trying to hide may make your fortune.” Cass Daley took his advice. From that time on, she opened her mouth wide and sang with such gusto and enjoyment that she became not only a successful singer, but also a film actress and comedienne. How can we overcome shyness and timidity? One way is to forget about ourselves, like Cass Daley did. When we stop worrying about all the things we think others would like us to be and instead are content with the way God made us, then we will

stop worrying so much about the opinions of others. No one wants to be met by a cold stare of rejection, but if you spend your life avoiding rejection, you will never get very far or accomplish much. Step out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The author and dramatist George Bernard Shaw is another example of someone who overcame shyness, and he went on to become one of the wittiest, most outspoken public speakers of his time. When asked how he managed to change, he replied, “I did it the same way I learned to skate—by persistently making a fool of myself until I got used to it.” As a young man, Shaw was so timid he would often walk up and down a street for 20 minutes before he dared to knock on the door of someone with whom he wasn’t well acquainted. “Few men,” he confessed, “have suffered more from shyness and simple cowardice than I have—or have been more ashamed of it!” Finally he hit upon a way to conquer his shyness and fear. 9


“I was the shyest human ever invented, but I had a lion inside me that wouldn’t shut up!” —Ingrid Bergman (Swedish actress; 1915–1982)

Determined to turn his weak point into his strongest asset, he joined a debating society. He also attended every meeting in London in which there was to be a public discussion, and forced himself to take part in the debate. With practice, his public speaking improved. Eventually George Bernard Shaw became one of the most confident and brilliant speakers of the early 20th century. Cass Daley and George Bernard Shaw had at least two things in common: determination and a plan. Those are key elements of self-help, but there’s something else, a catalyst that can both ease and speed the process exponentially. God’s Spirit working in us “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”1 God-help is vastly better than self-help alone. This applies to shyness, but it also applies in every other area of life. Whatever area of your life you want to change for the better, God wants to help you do it.2 Some changes are instantaneous, but most are gradual. We are His handiwork, but we are

all works in progress. With shyness, the more conscious you become of God’s loving presence in your life, the more secure you will feel in that love, the less self-conscious you will be, and the more at ease you will be with others. It’s like what happens when you stream clean water into a bucket of muddy water—eventually clean water will displace nearly all of the muddy water so the water in the bucket is all but pure. In this case, the clean water source is quality time with God, spent in meditative prayer or reading the Bible or other material that brings you closer to Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,”3 the Bible promises. Every time you reach out to Him, His Spirit touches and changes you a little more. ■

1. Ephesians 3:20 NIV

THE DUT Y TO CONTRIBUTE

By Erin Falconer Overcoming shyness isn’t just something you should do for yourself; it’s also part of being a contributing member of society. When you have a thought or idea that deserves to be heard, you’re not only hurting yourself by keeping quiet, you’re hurting the people around you. Other people need you. They need your intelligence and insight. They need your help to work through problems. By hiding behind shyness, you limit the help you can give to your friends, family members, and colleagues.4 ■

Would you like to experience God’s loving, transforming presence like never before? It begins by inviting His Son, Jesus, into your life. Simply pray:

2. See 1 John 5:14–15. 3. James 4:8 4. Source: www.pickthebrain.com/blog/overcoming-shyness 10

Jesus, I believe in You. Please come into my life. Amen.


GLOSSOPHOBIA By Yushi Jai

You need to give a toast at your best friend’s wedding,

or make an acceptance speech for an award you’ve won, or sell a group at work on a new project—and you’re dying inside because this is one speaking engagement you can’t say no to. You aren’t alone. Also known as glossophobia, the fear of public speaking is one of the very most common fears. As with any fear, the best way to overcome glossophobia is to deal with it at its roots.

Fear #1: I won’t know what to say. Is it hard for you to talk about your favorite sports team, or a book or film you thoroughly enjoyed? Probably not. You know how you feel about it and why. Delve into your topic until you find at least one point you can be passionate about, and build on that.

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” —Mark Twain, American writer and humorist (1835–1910)

Fear #2: What will people think of me? It’s human nature to be largely self-centered. While that’s not a very happy thought, it’s good news for you, the nervous public speaker, for two reasons: First, most people are more focused on their own perceived flaws and shortcomings than they are on yours. Second, your audience hopes to gain something from hearing you speak; they want you to succeed. Just be yourself. Fear #3: I will be so nervous that everyone will notice. An excellent way to set you and your audience at ease is by starting with a story that is both relevant to the topic of your presentation and that you feel comfortable telling. A little humor, if appropriate, also helps. Fear #4: My mind will go blank. Having thoroughly rehearsed notes will decrease the likelihood of forgetting what you have planned to say.

Highlight key points in your notes to help you quickly find your place if you stumble. Fear #5: I won’t be able to hold my audience’s attention. In this age of multitasking and input overload, attention spans are getting shorter, so be succinct. Brief anecdotes are catchy, and humor provides breaks. Use a few clear facts or figures to support your point, but too many of those can be confusing and wearing. Visual aids help present material quickly and clearly. Programs such as PowerPoint have been created with the seminar presenter in mind. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.” —Dorothy Sarnoff, American opera singer and image consultant (1914–2008) Yushi Jai is a teacher and a member of TFI in Japan. ■ 11


Love the One You’re With By Anna Perlini

Some song lyrics have a big impact on me. One example is

Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” The chorus of which says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.” It was 1974, my boyfriend and I had just split up, and I was heart­ broken. For weeks I alternated between trying to avoid him and trying to catch his attention. Attending the same school that he did was torture! This song helped me then to look outward, to reach out. Half a lifetime later, it had the same effect. I was on a city bus when a young mother with a two- or three-year-old girl took the seat directly in front of me. The first thing I noticed was that both of them were nicely dressed and well groomed. My second thought was that they appeared to be foreigners. I observed them for a while, trying to figure out where they were from. The little girl played happily 1. Matthew 22:39 CEV 12

with a toy, but I could read fatigue and troubles on the mother’s face. As I looked on, I couldn’t help but think of my four granddaughters who live on the other side of the world. I chat with them over the internet and I see new photos regularly, but I miss holding them in my arms. “Those are beautiful,” I said, pointing to the little girl’s gold earrings. The young woman’s eyes lit up, and instantly we felt a connection. I soon learned that they had come to Italy a few months earlier, at the invitation of relatives, and that her husband was still back in their home country, awaiting word that they had found a job for him. In the meantime she had also been looking for work for herself, but nothing had materialized. It was difficult to find steady work with a young child and no one able to care for her during work hours. The mother was only 20, the age I had been when I had my first child.

The bus pulled up to my stop, and it turned out to be their stop also. I needed to get to the train station, but was unfamiliar with that part of town. My new friend offered to show me the way, and I gratefully accepted. As we walked along, we talked some more. I told her about my life, my kids, and my granddaughters. She gave me a sympathetic look when I told her I hadn’t seen them in a long time. Then the little girl gave me a smile, as if to say, “I’m here.” I remembered my own struggles as a young, inexperienced mother and tried to encourage this young woman to hold on. The sacrifices she was making to arrange a good situation for her family would be worth it, I assured her. I also told her about my recent experiences as a volunteer, how as I give of my time and energy to others in need, the “missing things” in my life are a lot more bearable.


Then that old song started replaying in my head. This time it wasn’t about the loss of a boyfriend, but rather my longing to spend more time with my children and grandchildren. “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.” As we said goodbye, I pressed some money into her hand. I couldn’t afford much, but I knew even that little would help, given her difficult situation. She hadn’t asked, but I had felt that I needed to show her and her little girl the same love and concern I would have shown my own daughters and granddaughters, had I met them on the bus that day. Jesus instructed us, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”1 I think if He had expounded on that, He might have said, “And love others as much as you love your own children.” Anna Perlini is a member of TFI in Croatia. ■

The Greatest of All is Love A Parent’s Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker. If I live for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn of cleanliness, not godliness. Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh. Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window. Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk. Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys. Love is present through the trials. Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive. Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the child walk into adulthood. Love is the key that opens salvation’s message to a child’s heart. Before I became a mother, I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God’s perfection of my children. As a mother, there is much I must teach my children, but the greatest of all is love. —Author unknown ■ 13


Answers To Your Questions

Alleviating Worry Q: Sometimes I feel like I’m being overcome with worries. What can I do to stop worrying so much? A: Who doesn’t worry sometimes? We worry about what’s going to happen in the world. We worry about failing in school or in our work. We worry that we won’t be able to make ends meet financially. We worry about how we’re going to make up for mistakes we’ve made or opportunities we missed. We worry about our future. We worry about losing the ones we love. We worry about so many things! Most worries come down to one of two things: fretting about past failures and situations gone wrong, or fearing the future. How can we keep those fears from affecting us? One good answer can be found in an unexpected place—the modern ocean liner. Ocean liners are 1. Romans 8:28 2. Psalm 56:3 3. Isaiah 12:2, emphasis added 14

constructed with fireproof, watertight steel doors that, in the event of fire or serious leakage, can seal off the damaged compartment and contain the problem so the ship can stay afloat. So it should be in the “ship” of our lives. In order to make the most of today and best prepare for the future, we have to learn to seal ourselves off from worries about yesterday with its mistakes and failures, as well as from overblown concerns about tomorrow. Otherwise our worries may flood us and drag us under. Have you ever noticed that it’s the things that never happen that seem to worry us the most? One businessman drew up what he called a “worry chart,” where he kept a record of his fears. He discovered that 40% of them were about things that probably would never happen, 30% concerned past decisions that

he could not change, 12% had to do with other people’s criticism of him, and 10% were unfounded worries about his health. He concluded that there were valid reasons for only 8% of his worries. Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do, but it never gets you anywhere. As Christians we don’t have to fear or worry about anything, because we have the assurance that “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.”1 The famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837–1899) used to say, “You can travel first class or second class to heaven. Second class is, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust,’2 and first class is, ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’3 So why not buy a first-class ticket?” ■


OVERCOME DARKNESS A Spiritual Exercise By Abi F. May

Being afraid is like being trapped in a small, dark

room. The darkness can be so thick it feels suffocating. You reach out, but you can’t find the exit. But find the light switch, turn on a light, and everything changes. Even a small light helps you get your bearings and shows you the way out. One thing that doesn’t help when you’re afraid or worried is pretending that the fear will go away if you ignore it. Fear must be dispelled. You need to find the way out. Try this exercise the next time you feel trapped by fear or worry. You will need four things: a room that can be darkened, a candle or lamp, a means to light the candle or turn on the lamp, and a Bible. Go to that room at a time when you won’t be disturbed. Turn on a light and close the curtains or pull the blinds. Take a few minutes to read and think about what the 1. Psalm 91:1–2 CEV 2. Psalm 23:4 CEV 3. Psalm 27:1 CEV

Bible has to say about our fears and worries. For example: “Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful. Then you will say to the Lord, ‘You are my fortress, my place of safety; you are my God, and I trust you.’”1 “I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid.”2 “You, Lord, are the light that keeps me safe. … You protect me, and I have no fears.”3 Now turn off the light and tell God what is bothering you. Be as detailed as you like; He has endless patience. And don’t worry that He won’t understand. Even if your fears turn out to be unfounded, they are

very real to you at the moment, and He knows that. Now light the candle or turn on the lamp. This light represents God’s presence and power. You are no longer in a dark room, alone with your fears. He is with you, and His light has overcome the darkness. Thank Him for His presence and that He is always with you, no matter what. As you leave the room, turn out the light or extinguish the candle; you won’t need it as you go out into the daylight or lighted house. But take the experience with you. The next time you feel fear coming on, recall this exercise. Mentally flip the switch or light the candle, remind yourself of His comforting, unfailing presence and be at peace. Abi F. May is an educator and author in Great Britain, and an Activated staff writer. ■ 15


From Jesus with Love

Consider the sparrow… My eye is on the sparrow as she flutters about in search of food and a place to nest. She trusts Me, and I guide her to a resting place. She doesn’t worry about what she doesn’t have. She just goes about her day and trusts that I will provide her needs. How small and numerous are the sparrows, and yet I know and watch over them all. I remember and care for each one. You, My child, are far more precious to Me than all the sparrows combined, and if I show such concern for these small and seemingly insignificant creatures, will I not also care for you? I know your troubles and I understand your fears. I am here to give you faith and answer your prayers, but I need you to trust Me as the little sparrow does. You don’t see her fluttering about in a panic, worried and flurried; she is calm and peaceful, knowing that My eye is on her and I will care for her as My own. My eye is on you, too, and I stand ready to help. So trust Me, won’t you? Let Me do the worrying!

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The “I-Ness” of Shyness Conquer self-consciousness Taking calculated risks Relief is here change your life. change your world. Vol 13 • Issu...

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