a publication of Life Action Ministries
Swarmed by Fears? finding peace in a world of worry
Summer 2009 Volume 40, Issue 2 www.LifeAction.org/revive
3 Spirit of Revival
Turning Fear into Faith by Byron Paulus
Love Casts Out Fear by Del Fehsenfeld
13 From the Heart
Into the Face of Fear by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
31 The Next Step
Worry-free doesn’t meen care-free by Daniel W. Jarvis
4 Interact Feedback from our readers
Interview with former hostage Gracia Burnham
19 Looking Back
Would you deny Christ?
22 Hard Questions
24 Real World
Why trust God when He allows disasters?
A father grapples with economic fear
27 Prayers for Change
10 Listen to Your Fear
28 Making It Personal
14 The Fear of Man
Finding Peace in a World of Fear
Tools to help you go deeper
How to pray through your fear
Apply the principles discussed in this issue
Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
2 0 Fear Him!
Trent Griffith and Dan Jarvis
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Creative Directors: Aaron Paulus, Tim Ritter Senior Graphic Designer: Thomas A. Jones Production: Wayne Lake Volume 40, Number 2 Copyright © 2009 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved. Suggested donation $4.95
Revive magazine is published quarterly as God provides and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people as they respond to the promptings of His Spirit. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Many Revive articles are also available online. We do not share subscriber information with other organizations. To purchase additional copies of this issue, to be placed on our free mailing list, or to contact the editors with feedback or questions: Life Action Ministries • P.O. Box 31, Buchanan, MI 49107 • 269-697-8600 • info@LifeAction.org • www.LifeAction.org/revive
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL
Turning Fear into Faith
arlier this year, the pilot of a private twin-engine plane died shortly after takeoff. That’s when passenger Doug White took over and managed to successfully land the plane, saving the passengers on board. When asked if he had been afraid, Doug replied, “Yes, but my fear was focused.” For the Christian, fear is a reminder to put our faith in God. What happens to us is often out of our control, but what we focus on when we are afraid is always our choice. King Jehoshaphat faced a terrifying scenario that embroiled him in a battle with fear. A fierce multitude of enemy soldiers invaded his homeland and were approaching the capital city. The eyes of his countrymen turned in his direction. What would he do in response to fear? Although Jehoshaphat had an army and a fortress at his disposal, he did something extraordinary. Instead of hiding his fear and resorting to false bravado, he humbly turned his focus to seek the Lord. Although threatened by foes far greater than his resources to combat them, Jehoshaphat believed there was still hope—in God. Fear became a stimulus for prayer. The account of Jehoshaphat’s response to fear provides an excellent model for us during these perilous times: Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast through all of Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord. . . . And Jehoshaphat . . . said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might. . . . We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” . . . And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the [enemy], so that they were routed (2 Chron. 20:3-22 esv).
Don’t miss this profound truth: Frightening circumstances provide a wonderful opportunity to see the Lord display His glory! And they allow God’s people to shine their light ever brighter when darkness is closing in. The fear we feel in these difficult days provides incredible opportunity to focus on what really matters. God is reminding us of our need for His mercy and leadership. We may someday realize that this was the moment God called us to revival— that these circumstances were used by Him to ignite prayer, holiness, and repentance across our land. What is the story we will tell our grandchildren? That like Jehoshaphat, when we felt surrounded and outnumbered, we turned from fear to faith, confidently believing God to do the impossible? Or that we ignored the opportunity crisis provides as a springboard to revival? I believe the worst thing that could happen to America right now is deliverance without a genuine return to the Lord. It would only increase our selfsufficiency and fuel our pride, which are hindrances to true worship. My prayer is that this issue of Revive magazine will turn the temptation to fear into a stimulus to pursue God, through prayer and fasting, for revival. n
For the Christian, fear is a reminder to put our faith in God.
Byron Paulus Executive Director
.com Resource For more on the topic of revival, read Byron’s blog at LifeAction.org/Blog.
INTERACT Do you have comments or questions about this issue of Revive? Has God changed your life as a result of the truth presented? We enjoy publishing questions, responses, encouraging stories, or even critiques from our readers. Send us your thoughts. Write to Revive Editor, Life Action Ministries, P.O. Box 31, Buchanan, MI 49107, or e-mail us at revive@LifeAction.org. (We do edit letters for length and clarity. Please include your city and state.)
The last issue of Revive focused on forgiveness—how to extend it and why it is so vital to a revived life. But some of our readers wondered what to do when they themselves need to be forgiven by someone else. What is the best way to ask forgiveness of a person we have offended? The Bible does not prescribe any specific method, but it does give us several important principles to follow:
1. Don’t put off seeking reconciliation (see Matt. 5:23-24). All of us have a tendency to avoid hard things, and asking forgiveness is never easy. It requires humility and effort. But Jesus makes clear in this text that a critical part of our worshiping God is doing everything in our power to be right with others.
2. Go directly to the person involved (see Matt. 18:15-17). When we experience relational conflict, it is tempting to spread the negativity we feel about someone to others. But gossip destroys relationships!
3. Take responsibility for your own sin (see Ps. 51). Let’s face it, relationships are complex, and most of the time when we’ve sinned against someone, we also feel that they have sinned against us. But don’t go to seek forgiveness while blaming or justifying in any way. Instead, be specific about what you have done, and take 100% responsibility for your part in the offense. God will deal with the other person.
One final tip from your friends here at Life Action: The scope of your confession should be as large as the scope of your transgression. This rule of thumb will help you identify who needs to be included in the process of reconciliation. Gaining and maintaining a clear conscience is one of the greatest joys and freedoms in the Christian life. You might want to start by making a list of all the people you can remember sinning against that you haven’t gone back to seek forgiveness. It might take some time, but going through the process of seeking forgiveness from those you’ve sinned against is worth it!
Reader Feedback: “Thanks for tackling the seemingly impossible situations to forgive (war, murder, homosexuality, abuse). The practical, gut-level hope these provide cannot be overstated in our sin-sick world. In a society increasingly marked by rage and anger, this will become a lifeline of hope for years to come!”
Carrie, Dixon, IL
“Thanks so much for the Revive magazine. It is great. Every article I just devour!”
Cathy, Wakarusa, IN
New to Revive? If you missed our last issue of Revive magazine on forgiveness, you can purchase a back copy from our online store or freely print off the articles from our website at your convenience. Just log on to www.LifeAction.org/Revive or call 800-321-1538.
Love Casts Out Fear
will never forget my first panic attack. I was a freshman in college when my heart started racing, the crowded room felt like it was shrinking, and my breath came in short gasps. I didn’t know what was happening, but I had never experienced such overwhelming fear. I quickly decided that fear was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. You may never have had a panic attack, but I’m sure you are familiar with the stress of anxiety. Fear can control our lives, even when we’re not conscious of it. Many people organize their entire lives around maintaining enough control so they don’t feel afraid. We are taught from childhood that with hard work and careful planning, it’s possible to determine our own destinies. With the right education, the right job, the right partner, the right portfolio, and the right insurance policies, we can achieve peace of mind. But it turns out that freedom from fear is an elusive pursuit. Nagging questions keep surfacing. What if we’ve missed something? And what happens if things don’t work out the way we’ve planned? Despite our best efforts, it seems that we are always one unexpected turn of events away from disaster. Jesus gives us a different formula for freedom from fear. He introduces us to a loving, giving, all-powerful Father: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 niv). Coming to believe the outrageous generosity of God in Jesus Christ through the gospel is the antidote to fear. I have been reconciled to my Creator; and since He is in control, I don’t have to be. What a revolutionary discovery! I can face an unknown future because I know the God of the future. Trusting the loving intentions of my heavenly Father has at least two radical implications for me.* First, it changes the way I think about neediness. I am
* Insights from Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson.
naturally compulsive about avoiding needs. Needs make me feel weak and vulnerable. But needs actually make me a candidate for God’s gifts. The desire to live without needs is really a desire to live without God. Second, it prepares me for a life of receptivity. Control is my attempt to squeeze everything I can get out of life in order to protect my well-being. But I can’t possibly eke out enough to meet the real needs of my heart. And that’s where grace comes in. God gives what I can’t earn. The best things in life come to me as gifts. Needs are really God’s invitation to live in His grace-filled world. Knowing what He knew about His Father, it’s little wonder that Jesus turned the value system of the dog-eatdog “real world” on its head with some of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:31-33). n
I can face an
unknown future because I know the God of
Del Fehsenfeld III Senior Editor
Finding Peace in a World of
Though we serve the all-powerful Creator, we join in the world’s worry.
ome years ago, I was at a major university attending a Broadway-style performance competition. I was sitting in the third row watching one of the groups do their number. In the middle of the song, the tuxedo pants on one of the men suddenly split all the way around and fell apart! To this day I can’t believe he didn’t leave the stage. But he felt the need to continue, desperately holding his pants together! I’ll never forget the pained expression on that poor guy’s face as the audience roared in laughter. Many Christians are living their lives like that dancer. They’re going through the dance of life forcing a smile, but inwardly they feel as if they are about to fall apart. They fret and worry and are consumed with fear. Have you ever been there—trying desperately to hold things together in the dance of your marriage, your family, your career, or your reputation? We wonder what we will eat, what we will wear, what will happen tomorrow, and how we’ll pay for it. On and on the cycle goes until a sense of dread permeates our lives.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:32 that the pagan world runs after all these things. They worry about them constantly. They do everything they can to control their situations so they’ll never be on the wrong side of a risk. Though we serve the all-powerful Creator, we join in the world’s worry. The tragedy is that we can get so caught up in these fears that we forget what it means to have the peace of God.
God’s Command About Fears Philippians 4:6-7 (niv) commands: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.
Paul says, in the middle of a world of worrisome possibilities and fearful scenarios, do not be anxious! Bring your cares directly to God for help. No fear about anything, but prayer about everything. Further, we are to pray with thanksgiving. When we get on our knees, laying out all our worries before God and thanking Him, we are making a choice to believe that God loves us and has a purpose for the things that are going on in our lives. He is shaping us to be like Jesus. You may say, “I could never do that! You don’t know the circumstances I’m facing!” But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be delivered from the problem before you can thank Him. Your prayer might be as simple as, “Lord, I feel trapped in my fears, but I’m making a choice today to trust You, to lay my requests before You, and to thank You.” For those who take the step of obedience to trust God with our fears, He reserves a blessing that goes beyond anything we could ever have anticipated: “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I know a man who lost his young wife to disease, leaving him a widowed dad with four children. I asked him if, at any point in the process, he lost the peace of God. His reply: “The only times I lost peace were the times I started thinking, ‘What if . . . ?’ God doesn’t give you grace for what if; He gives you grace and peace for what is.” The peace of God guards our hearts so we can stay focused on God when frightening circumstances encircle us. It guards our minds so we won’t give in to despair. If we will hand our worries and fears to the Lord in prayer, He will guard and protect us from the pitfalls of a fretful, fearful, faithless existence. He will enable us to live a joyful, peaceful life in a stressed-out world.
How to Respond to Fears List your fears. They may be very tangible things. Some people find themselves getting up at night to re-check the doors, even though they’re already locked. Others hold back their generosity because of fear they’ll go broke. Many fear failure, the loss of reputation, or the rejection of a family member. What do you fear?
Identify the lies behind your fears. For the Christian, every fear is ultimately based on a lie. Here are a few examples:
Fear of death
My security is in this life
Fear of rejection
Worth comes from people
Fear for safety
God may not do what’s best
Fear of poverty
God won’t take care of me
Fear of suffering
I won’t be able to bear it
Worry feels deceptively necessary, but remember: It accomplishes nothing. Jesus asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to life?” (Matt. 6:27). It reminds me of those funnels that you put a coin in to watch it whirl around and around before it disappears into a hole in the middle. That’s kind of like worrying; it distracts me for a little while, accomplishes nothing, and leaves me a little bit poorer! Worry brings us no closer to being like Jesus, and the objects of our worry remain completely unaffected by it.
Identify the truth. What does God’s Word say? What are the truths that counter the fear-producing lies I am being tempted to believe? For example, the following Scriptures help answer the lies behind the fears identified above: • “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55). • “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). • “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). • “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
• God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). I started looking up every verse I could find on fear. I discovered that the truth is summed up in a question the Psalmist posed: “What can mortal man do to me?” (Ps. 56:4). Human beings don’t hold the keys to my joy, success, happiness, fulfillment, or eternal destiny. As long as God is with me, then like Joshua entering the Promised Land, I can “be strong and very courageous” (Josh. 1:7).
Focus on worship. Remember the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)? Martha was busy and bothered, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to learn and worship. Jesus said that Martha was anxious about many things. Isn’t that the way we tend to live? But only one thing is needed: worship! You can’t be a worrier and a worshiper at the same time. Worship will replace your worry.
make faith-less decisions—the wrong decisions! It keeps us from the abundant life of Christ. As you pray through your fears, you may hear God asking you to face one of them head on. He may require you to do precisely what you’ve avoided for so long. The only alternative to a life of fear is a life of faith. Once we accept the fact that we can’t control everything no matter how hard we try, we’re ready to place our confidence in Christ to hold us, guide us, and walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. Only then are we free—from midnight worries and countless “what ifs,” from holding back and “playing it safe”—finally we can love and worship God. In the end, faith in the face of fear is a choice, not a feeling. Fear is a natural emotion, and when it is felt, we must walk in bold obedience to the Lord. Only then can we enjoy His peace. n Mark is a revivalist with Life Action Ministries.
Respond in faith. Responding in faith is important because fear wants to avoid faith at all costs. Fear tells us to avoid risks and hide our vulnerabilities. Fear causes us to
FEAR NOT! Did you know that “Do not fear” is the most frequent command in the Bible? It occurs over three hundred times. God is obviously aware of our tendency to worry!
Fear not . . .
“The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you” (Deut. 1:30). “The LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). “I am with you; . . . I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will
When I am afraid,
uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
“‘I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD” (Jer. 1:8).
I will trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? (Ps. 56:3-4)
.com Resource For more on this topic, listen to a podcast by Mark Bearden entitled “Dealing with Fear” at LifeAction.org/Fear.
L i f e A c t i o n r e v i v al s u m m i t s a n d TH IRST c o n f e r e n c e s p r o v i d e a o n e - o f - a - k i n d experience of reconnecting with God a n d t r a n s f o r m i n g r e lat i o n s h i p s .
Slow D o w n www.LifeAction.org/Events
Listen to Your I
n the face of fear, we want to keep moving. To slow down and listen to what it might be saying is counterintuitive. But there is a logic—a language—to fear and anxiety just as there is to most emotions. Listening to fear is like listening to background noise. At first you think there is nothing to hear, but then you notice the wind in the trees, the birds calling for a mate, cars passing by, a plane overhead, creaks in the floors, and the water heater kicking in—there is much more going on than we first noticed! The same is true with fears. At first we might overlook the underlying message in our fears; but when we listen more carefully, we notice that they are speaking loudly about the things our hearts truly care about and love. Here are two common themes:
“I am vulnerable.” We might not have Genghis Khan sweeping across the plains, prepared to destroy everything that moves, but life is dangerous no matter where we live. Even without a sworn enemy, the possibility of accidents gives us real reason to be afraid. Think of it this way: If we live long enough, something bad will certainly happen, and there is nothing we can do to keep it at bay. This is where fear gets interesting. Danger points at the threatening world around us. Vulnerability points to us. It’s about our lack of control. Take someone who is accustomed to driving, and put him in the passenger seat. Watch his foot nearly do a Fred Flintstone as he puts all his weight on an imaginary brake. And hear his ongoing suggestions for the driver. That’s a person who is feeling vulnerable—out of control, and thus afraid. Listening to this sort of fear reminds us that we are creatures, dependent on God and others around us. We have only limited control of the situations we face, no matter how much we wish it were otherwise. Here is where fear is a door to spiritual reality. It suggests that authentic humanness was never intended to be autonomous and self-reliant. Humans are needy—dependent—by design. Will we abandon the myth of independence and seek God?
“I need (and might not get).” There is a close connection between what we fear and what we think we need. • • • •
If we need comfort, we fear physical pain. If we need approval, we fear criticism. If we need love, we fear rejection. If we need admiration for our attractiveness, we fear getting fat.
For example, money is believed to have unusual power to satisfy many of our needs, so it is a target for endless fears. Without money we feel vulnerable and powerless. With it we have confidence that we can get adequate medical treatment, love, respect, etc. For decades my wife and I never locked our house. We never thought twice about burglaries because we owned nothing that valuable—nothing we really loved. But as we
F EAR As you evaluate what your fears say about you, your priorities, and your faith in God, consider Psalm 91; Luke 12:22-34; and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.
began to amass a few items that were important to me, my attitude changed. I’ve even considered purchasing a safe! Listening to our fears about losing or missing out on the things we need can reveal what we trust. Trust reveals the center of our worlds. For example, when we have fears about our financial position, we might be revealing that we trust in money. What we are afraid of can reveal that something other than God has become enthroned in our hearts.
Are your fears telling you that you love anything more than God?
Where Is My Treasure? If we know Christ and have affirmed our allegiance to him, worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways. We certainly don’t want to renounce our allegiance to Jesus, but we want to protect what we feel is our own. We’re not so sure the Lord can be trusted with some of these things, so we look for help elsewhere. It’s easy to tell ourselves that such worry is not a critical kingdom issue. After all, we are not avowed Satan worshipers. But the reality is that you can’t have dual masters. Worry is misdirected love that should be confessed. It is making life about our needs, desires, and wants. It’s time to choose sides. Can’t you just hear Jesus say, “How would you like a place where nothing rusted, nothing wore out, and investments were guaranteed?” (See Matt. 6:19-21.) We begin by turning away from loyalty to things that promise emptiness, and confessing how things and people have been our hope, security, and confidence. Confession changes everything. When we confess to God that our worry is a sin against him, we turn away from the kingdom of earth and put ourselves in a position to see the attractiveness and worthiness of eternal things. n
Adapted from Running Scared © 2007 by Edward T. Welch. Used by permission of New Growth Press. The editors highly recommend this book.
FEAR is speaking, and we should listen. Danger. Vulnerability. Unmet needs. If fears and their messages are overwhelming, take comfort in this: We can cast our cares on Jesus because He cares for us. Whatever your fears say about you, count them as signposts that direct you to Him. This the goal of listening to fear—to hear what God has to say about the lies and idolatries of our hearts.
That’s why the exercise of pausing and listening when we feel afraid is so helpful; it keeps us honest before God about our needs. You might begin with a prayer like this: “Lord, I feel this fear of ________________. Why? What does it say about my priorities? What does it say about my heart?”
T h e Lo d g e is a p l a ce f o r p a st o r s a n d l e a d e r s t o t a ke a b re a k f ro m t h e d e m a n d s o f m i nist r y a n d f i n d s p iri t u a l re n e wa l a n d p h y sic a l re l a x a t i o n .
Be Refreshed www.RetreatAtTheLodge.org
FROM THE HEART
Into the Face of Fear
t various points in your life, you will be the recipient of bad news, and you’ll face challenges that seem insurmountable. You’ll get a phone call that you’ll wish you could have left unanswered. It might involve your work, your family, or your money. And in that moment, you will be tempted to fear. The children of Israel found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by bad news. Twelve spies returned from their scouting trip into the Promised Land, and they laid out the facts to the congregation: “It flows with milk and honey. . . . However, the people who dwell in the land are strong and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendents of Anak there” (Num. 13:27-28 esv). The Anakim were a fierce, warlike race of giants— formidable opponents who stood between the Israelites and their future hopes. You can imagine the scene. The people grew still, whispering to one another. “What are we going to do?” Their anxiety quickly turned to unrest and panic. But Caleb, one of the spies, rose up and quieted the people. “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (v. 30). What a powerful statement of faith in the midst of great uncertainty! In effect, Caleb said, “God has given us His promises, and therefore we can go into the land and take it.” Caleb and Joshua focused on the greatness of God, and operated in faith. The other ten spies responded to the same set of circumstances out of fear. Fear caused the people of Israel to lose perspective. Here they were, standing at the very edge of the Promised Land after being miraculously delivered from the Egyptians. Would they exercise faith in God, or would they cave in to fear? Numbers 14 goes on to tell us that the congregation was swayed by the majority report of the ten who operated
in fear, rather than by the faith of Caleb and Joshua. The Israelites did what we so often do in the face of frightening circumstances—they had a meltdown: The whole congregation said to [Moses and Aaron] . . . “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (vv. 2-4). Unthinkable! But fear makes us irrational. Where there is fear, faith is lacking. Where there is faith, fear will evaporate. You cannot walk by faith and live in fear. You cannot walk in fear and live by faith. Are you facing a situation where you’re tempted to hunker down in fear rather than move forward in faith? One of the keys to battling fear is to look for like-minded, like-hearted friends who will stand with you in faith. I am so grateful for friends and colleagues who have encouraged me in my walk of faith—people who challenge my perspective: “Giants? Yes, they’re big, but they’re not as big as God!” Ask God to bring a Caleb into your life—a friend who will believe God with you, who will remind you of God’s great promises even when the situation looks impossible. Then ask God to make you that kind of friend to others—one who encourages faith rather than fueling negativity and fear in the hearts of those around you. n
Where there is fear, faith is lacking. Where there is faith, fear will evaporate.
.com Resource Adapted from Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Parts 2 and 3).
You can hear or read this and other messages from Nancy at www.ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Revive Our Hearts radio host
“The fear of man brings
a snare, but he who 1. Unwilling to pray out loud
trusts in the LORD
2. Immodest or suggestive clothing
shall be safe.”
3. Defensive when confronted
(Proverbs 29:25 NKJV)
5. Critical of others; fault-finding
4. Unwilling to be honest about failures 6. Greedy for material wealth and reputation
everal years ago at a retreat, our staff discovered that we were secretly struggling with insecurity. As we went around the table, we learned that each one of us had assumed that everybody else was too capable, too qualified, and too established in their positions of leadership to battle with the fear of disapproval. But we were wrong. That discussion began a new spiritual pilgrimage in my life. We defined insecurity as the condition that results from placing confidence in people or things that can be taken away. Further, we realized that just about everything and everyone on this earth could be taken away from us: our mate, ministry, health, sanity, intellect, friends, charismatic personality, dynamic ability to proclaim God’s truth, and all the material things of life. We learned that real security comes from placing our confidence in things that cannot be taken away: our relationship to Jesus and the truth of His Word.
Consequences of the Fear of Man The scriptural phrase for insecurity is “fear of man.” And Proverbs 29:25 tells us that “the fear of man brings a snare.” • •
Some people can’t open their mouths to share the gospel with someone because they are choked by fear of what that person might think. Some parents can’t discipline their children properly because they are desperate for their children’s approval. Others are harsh because they fear how their children’s
• • • •
behavior makes them look in front of others. Some people can’t disagree with another person or can’t stand it when someone disagrees with them because of fear of man. Some, held captive by fear of man, are chained to their sin habits. The only reason they haven’t received deliverance is because they would have to shame them- selves and confess their sin. Their fear of being found out keeps them in the muck and mire of secret sins. Some seek people’s approval by making an attempt to be accepted by everyone, even if it means lowering their standards. Some seek approval by trying to impress people with status or stuff.
And then there are others, like myself, who seek approval by being productive—showing off the number of great things we can accomplish. It was so bad with me in the earlier years of my ministry that when I recently agreed to preach for a pastor in Des Moines, Iowa, he asked if I would stay in town. When I asked what he meant, he said, “Ten years ago when you were with me for seven days, you were repeatedly flying out of town, and the rest of the time you were on the phone.” He was right. My pattern was to preach in a location Sunday through Friday, then drive all night to the next meeting. My ministry team would get out of the van exhausted, sit down in a truck stop for breakfast, and I’d be on the phone. I would overhear someone on our team say, “I’m telling you, that guy is the hardest worker I have ever seen in my life.”
of Man 12
by Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
7. Unable to make clear decisions
that you fear man
8. Harsh with your children in public 9. Constantly fishing for commendation 10. “One-upping” people’s stories with your own 11. Unwilling to be baptized or to verbally witness for Christ 12. Displaying different behavior depending on who you’re with
That was what I wanted to hear. It fulfilled my drive for approval—apart from God. I would nearly kill myself to be approved through productivity.
Finding Victory over the Fear of Man I kept confessing this sin to God, but I couldn’t find real freedom. Finally, under the tutorship of the Holy Spirit, I began to discover that the drive for approval is not a sin in itself. God created it! When Jesus was baptized, the windows of heaven opened, and the Father spoke: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Jesus Himself received strength and commissioning for His ministry through the approval of His Father. But we must understand that the drive for approval was given in order to drive us to God. Proverbs 14:26 states, “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence.” That’s real security. When you place your trust in the Lord and you live “in the fear of the Lord,” you don’t care what anybody thinks of you. Your focus is on the things that can’t be taken away. When I was a young preacher, I remember waiting in the front of the sanctuary with the hope that people would come forward and tell me how great the message was. When God started dealing with the fear of man in my life, I started coming down from the platform and, before anybody could speak to me, getting on my knees to ask, “God, was that okay with You? It really doesn’t matter if this church likes me. The only thing that matters is, was it okay with You?” Is it acceptable to you if people don’t like you but God does? Is it okay with you if you’re ostracized from your friends
.com Resource Watch or listen to the message entitled “Fear of Man” by Del Fehsenfeld Jr. at LifeAction.org/Fear.
in order to honor God? Or would you cling to those friends and the security of their approval even at the expense of God’s approval? A major breakthrough happened in my life when I realized that “insecurity” is really rooted in pride. It all came together when I was asked to speak in front of a minister I really respected—and I was nervous. I just knew he’d be sitting there evaluating me. Right before I got up to preach, a colleague passed a note to me: “Del, I am praying for you. Today is your final exam in the fear of man.” When I read that note, I cried out to God. I said, “God, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, and when I get through, the only thing that matters is what You think.”
Are you tired of having to impress people—strangers, church members, friends? Are you tired of evaluating and analyzing your decisions based on what everyone else thinks rather than on what God thinks? That’s an incredibly heavy load to carry. If you’ve been taken captive by the fear of man, God wants to set you free. Begin by agreeing with Him about your sin of pride, your fear of man. Then, seek the accountability of a brother or sister in Christ. n Del Fehsenfeld Jr., founder of Life Action Ministries, gave this message several months before his death in 1989.
ViewPoint A Year of Terror
Kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in May 2001, Martin and Gracia Burnham spent 376 perilous days of captivity in the Philippine jungle. Facing near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, and coldhearted murder, they endured the ultimate test of faith in the face of fear. On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between their captors and the Philippine military, Martin was killed; Gracia was wounded but freed. Revive speaks with Gracia Burnham about being a hostage, the fears she felt, and her advice to fearful hearts.
In the initial moments when the kidnapping occurred, what fears were running through your mind?
Gracia: Well, when you are first taken hostage, you don’t do a lot of thinking. You go into survival mode. I was doing exactly what I was told. I knew we were in big trouble. But the specific fears hadn’t set in. I was just trying to stay alive. As the days wore on, what worries did you face?
Gracia: I started wondering how long this would last, and whether or not these people were as bad as the media portrayed them. We had heard that they beheaded people and raped women. There were certain things I didn’t allow myself to worry about, like our career, our ministry, our children; I knew God would have to take care of those things. Were there any particular Scriptures that God used to calm and comfort you?
Gracia: Every once in a while, a Scripture would just pop into my mind at an opportune time. I
remember one day I was mad at Musab. He was the religious leader of the group, and he forced us to carry extra stuff. Martin had to carry extra rice, and I had to carry two mortars, one in each hand, as we climbed straight up a mountain. I was angry. That’s when the verse came to mind, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, and let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”1 In that moment I was weighed down—that’s why I was mad; but the real weight was my anger. I had to lay it aside and run the race with patience to get to the top of the mountain. I had to look toward Jesus in the midst of my problems. It was the perfect verse for that moment. What was your prayer life like?
Gracia: When you have nothing, you have nothing. Everything you need, you have to ask God for. If we needed a drink of water, we had to ask God. We prayed for the next thing that was going to help us survive. Here in America, if I need water, I go to the tap. I don’t ask God for it, because I’ve already got it. In the jungle, we brought every care to God.
Do you still struggle with any worries?
Gracia: I would love to say that I don’t fear a lot of things because of what I’ve been through. But honestly, some mornings I lie in bed thinking, “I need courage and strength to get through today. Can I make it?” I realize that makes no sense. The same God who got me through the jungle is going to get me through a day in Rose Hill, Kansas! What differences do you see in the lives of Christians in the West versus those believers who live under threats or persecution?
Gracia: For me to address this question is difficult because I’ve never suffered. Even in the jungle, I knew that if and when I got out, people would be very nice to me, and I would go back to my middleclass lifestyle in America. Christians suffering in closed countries are being persecuted for their faith, and they don’t have that hope of rescue at all. Their only hope is eternity. I’ve noticed in America that we’re really happy to fight for our rights. If someone tries to limit our freedom, we’ll stand up and fight. But persecuted Christians don’t have that option. They are more focused on loving their enemies. What would you tell someone today who is facing a frightening situation? What principles should guide them?
Gracia: I wasn’t ready for what happened to us. But I knew the Lord, and I knew the Scriptures. Although, sometimes the Scriptures weren’t comforting. I would think about verses like, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”2 I asked Martin one day, “Why is that in the Bible?” It wasn’t happening for us. I thought of the psalm where David wrote, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”3 And yet, here we were begging for food, starving, and feeling forsaken. The key word in your question is certain—difficulties are bound to happen. We have been told that in this life we will have problems.4 If you want your “emergency procedure” so that you’re armed with the right verses and can do all the right things in order that you won’t have to suffer as much or it won’t last as long, I think that’s the wrong motivation. You’re just wanting a “cushion” that will make the problem smaller. But if you want to be prepared for suffering so that God can get the maximum amount of glory from the situation, that’s the right motive. The worst thing that can happen is that God doesn’t get the glory. If we can arm ourselves with an attitude that says, “Lord, I want You to be glorified, and I want Your will to be done,” then maybe we’ll be ready for whatever comes around the corner. n Hebrews 12:1-2
Gracia: Keep your eyes on Jesus. Read all the Scriptures on fear. You can choose to not be fearful; that choice is based on God and His faithfulness. Don’t look at your circumstances; look at God. If the mountain you’ve got to climb is right in front of you, turn around and look at how big God is in comparison to the mountain. How about for someone who is living a relatively safe and comfortable life today? Is there anything they should be doing to ready their hearts for certain difficulties in the future?
Gracia has written two books about her experiences and the lessons she learned: In the Presence of My Enemies and To Fly Again. Visit www.GraciaBurnham.org to learn more about her family and ministry today.
.com Resource Listen to Gracia Burnham share her experience of captivity by Muslim terrorists at LifeAction.org/Fear.
Heart-Cry for Revival Conference 2010 The Cove, Asheville, NC November 9–12, 2009
The Heart-Cry for Revival conference equips Christian leaders to spark movements of revival in hearts, churches, and communities. Learn more by visiting www.Heart-CryForRevival.org.
July 1–16, 2010
Over the centuries, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have been touched many times by God in revival. Tour these historic lands July 24 – August 8, 2010, and visit the sites where George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Brian Edwards, and others met with God in an extraordinary way. Led by Henry Blackaby, Richard Owen Roberts, and Ron Owens, Life Action Ministries invites you on this never-to-be-forgotten visit to these lands of revival. For more information visit RevivalHeritage.com.
Would You Deny Christ? IN A SERMON ENTITLED “AN EXHORTATION AGAINST THE FEAR OF DEATH,” an English preacher defined his concern as that of the “frail flesh.” The year was 1547, and the preacher no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who was presiding over the greatest change in the history of English Christianity: a period known as the Reformation. Having seen the seeds of change in Henry VIII’s reign with the initial break from Roman Catholicism, Cranmer became the theological and literary architect of the new Protestant England, under the reign of Henry VIII and his successor, Edward VI. However, due to the premature death of Edward, the spiritual dawn proved to be a false one. Mary, another of Henry VIII’s children, reintroduced a forced Catholicism with great zeal, earning her the title “Bloody Mary.” The Protestant cause came under increasing fire as the devout Catholic queen rid the nation of evangelical “heretics”—a description that in Her Majesty’s eyes summed up the wayward archbishop. Refusing to flee for safety, Cranmer was eventually arrested and charged with treason and heresy. After two years of house arrest, prison, and public debate, he was sentenced to be burned for his faith. Throughout his incarceration, he had remained a staunch defender of the evangelical cause. Yet, having witnessed the public burning of two of his closest friends, Latimer and Ridley, in October of 1555, Cranmer’s steady defiance began to weaken. The horrors he had witnessed might soon become his own fate. In the early months of 1556, under constant psychological pressure and with hope of possible pardon, Cranmer wavered. He wrote a number of denials of his faith, hoping by them to escape a cruel death. He was now overcome with the fears of the “frail flesh” that he had described in his sermon nine years earlier. But his denials were to no avail, and on March 21, 1556, the 67-year-old archbishop faced his accusers one last time in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford, before being led to execution.
Expecting him once again to deny his evangelicalism, he was given opportunity to speak publicly from a prepared script. Unexpectedly, he spoke of his troubled conscience, and he took back all his denials, which were “written for fear of death and to save my life.” He added, “And for as much as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, it shall be first burned.” Enraged, the authorities dragged him off immediately to the stake. Foxe, the student of martyrs throughout history, described the scene: And when the wood was kindled and the fire began to burn near him, stretching out his arm, he put his right hand into the flame, which he held so steadfast and unmovable . . . that all men might see his hand burned before his body was touched. Having bravely fought for truth, Thomas Cranmer also battled with personal fears and, like most of us, experienced failure as well as victory. Yet his contribution to the Reformation and his final heroic stand over fear became a key factor in the reintroduction of Bible-based English Christianity, the legacy of which can still be felt all over the world. n Bibliography: Thomas Cranmer, Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1996; Thomas Cranmer, G. W. Bromiley, 1956; Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1850 edition; Dictionary of English Church History, 3rd edition, 1948 (Ed. S. L. Ollard)
Kevin Adams was born in South Wales and has authored two books and a film on Welsh revival history. He is the senior pastor of East Baptist Church in Lynn, Massachusetts.
ou know the feeling. You’re cruising along on a hot summer day, listening to music, without a care in the world. Suddenly your heart skips a beat and you hit the brakes—a policeman is just ahead, watching you. Did I slow down in time? How fast was I going? Your fear of the law—and the awareness of an authority—results in an immediate change of behavior. Despite the Bible’s constant reminders not to be afraid, there is one fear it encourages time and again. There is one opinion we should care about, one concern that should weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. We are told in Ecclesiastes 12:13 that this single fear is intrinsic to our purpose in life. We should fear God. The fear of God is the constant awareness that I am in the presence of a just and holy God, and that every
thought, word, action, and motive is being evaluated by Him. In other words, God’s radar is always on. It is impossible to speed past His holy law without certain consequences. Having traveled on Life Action’s revival teams to scores of churches across North America, we can state with confidence that the fear of God is in short supply. The commentary of Romans 3:18 is true: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” People speak of God’s peace, His mercy, His compassion, and even His righteousness. They sing about His love, study His grace, and savor His majesty. But they do not fear Him as the Bible commands. If we are ever to experience genuine revival, it will be born out of a fresh sense of God’s presence: healthy, reverent fear. To understand what’s involved, let’s break down the components of the definition:
Fear Him! by Trent Griffith and Dan Jarvis
Results of Fearing the Lord The book of Proverbs mentions a number of benefits for those who fear God, namely that fearing God is the “beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). It is also said to prolong our lives, keep us from evil, and lead us to life (Prov. 10:27; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4). The book of Psalms details the great spiritual and physical blessings promised to those who set their hearts to fear the Lord (Ps. 25:12-14; 31:19; 103:11; 145:19).
God is always present. In Jeremiah 23:24 (esv), God asks, “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? . . . Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Remember how, as a teen, your behavior could turn on a dime when your parents came into the room? The fear of God works the same way. When we recognize that He is omnipresent—that He is everywhere—we might think twice about our decisions, our words, and our “secrets.”
God is holy and just. “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). “His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4). God isn’t just better than us. He is perfect, “majestic in holiness.” He is the very foundation of what we call “justice.” It is this God who is constantly watching; it is in the presence of this Judge that we stand every moment.
God evaluates every area of my life. The next time you go shopping, glance above the checkout area. Chances are you’ll see tinted balls—revolving cameras that are keeping a sharp, recording eye on everything you do. God’s “camera” is also set to record what we do—and what we think, and what we say, and even our motivations. Proverbs 5:21 (nasb) explains, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths.” And God says in Jeremiah 16:17, “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes.” Perhaps most fearsome of all is a note written to the Hebrews: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13 niv). Notice that the judgment mentioned is not merely in the future tense (the coming Day of Judgment); this evaluation of our lives is ongoing, happening in real time. The all-powerful Creator God is with you right now, He sees everything, and He is weighing you with perfect knowledge and perfect justice. Before you take your next breath, consider that He is near. Fear Him!
If we’ve been living our lives apart from God, without Christ, reverent fear should really be holy terror. Violators of God’s law can expect the “judgment and . . . raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb. 10:27). The good news of the gospel is that Jesus makes righteousness possible for us—not by our own efforts but by His amazing grace. Those who trust His joyous salvation need not fear God’s wrath! For believers, the knowledge of what we have been saved from causes us to cling all the tighter to Christ. Reminders of God’s swift and perfect justice bring us to our knees in gratitude for His undeserved grace. For us, the fear of the Lord is different; He is our Father. We are deeply respectful of His power and deeply concerned about His opinions, knowing that we have been saved from sin in order to live a holy life (2 Tim. 1:9). Though God’s love for us is vast, and His forgiving grace is unmeasured, He expects much from those who have been given much (Luke 12:48). Our lives are on full display before our Creator and Redeemer. He watches, and He knows. And one day we will be asked to account for the life He has entrusted to us (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25). Do you fear God? Do you know that He is with you now, that He sees your sins, your shortcomings, your secrets? Have you bowed to Christ for deliverance from God’s wrath? Have you trusted Him fully for forgiveness and new life? And now, as His follower, do you feel your great responsibility to honor Him? n Trent Griffith and Dan Jarvis traveled together on a Life Action summit team. Trent now serves as senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Granger, Indiana. Dan pastors at Weymouth Church in Medina, Ohio, and serves as Managing Editor for Revive.
Practicing the Fear of God • • • • •
Choose to be aware of God’s presence everywhere today. Tape “God is watching too” to your television set and computer screen. Speak to God in prayer about the situations you encounter as you encounter them. Meditate on Psalm 139. Rather than “What would Jesus do?” ask, “What is Jesus thinking about me right now?”
Dr. Richard Fisher
Questions Why should I trust God when He allows disaster? God will accomplish His ends. The means may seem frightening at times, tempting us to dread, but there is no need. Whatever fear we feel can be displaced by faith in a God greater than the storm.
My friend woke up after open heart surgery to learn that his left leg was going to be amputated. Other friends of mine have arrived at work to find a dreaded pink slip, due to the economic downturn. Disasters come in different varieties, but at one time or another, they touch all of us. And then there’s the bigger scale: war, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, starvation, debt, corruption—it’s enough to make any thinking person afraid, even terrified. Yet we are asked to live by faith. We are asked to trust God even when He allows tragedy to beset us. Why should we, and how can we? Habakkuk was a prophet of God to the nation of Judah just before its destruction by the pagan Babylonian Empire. His struggle with fear and frustration because of the disaster, suffering, judgment, and trouble of his day mirrors what many of us feel about the conditions in our world today. The book of Habakkuk presents a journey from the valley of despair to the heights of glory. Habakkuk moves from focusing on the frightening circumstances of life to trusting completely in the faithfulness of God; from wrestling to resting. The name Habakkuk means “to embrace,” and fittingly so, as the ultimate challenge of the book is to
embrace God and His plan completely, even when trouble is on the horizon. Evaluating the prophet’s journey from fear to faith may help us on our own:
We are tempted to despair. (Hab. 1:1-4) Habakkuk was a man of faith. Yet his confidence was founded on some false expectations—that God would always mete out justice in a way that he could understand, that God would not allow the wicked to harm the righteous. He responded in doubt, anger, and fear, just as you and I often do. Something is wrong with the way You are doing things, God!
We wrestle with God. (Hab. 1:5–2:1) Habakkuk’s frustration was compounded when God answered the complaint with specifics of His divine plan—God would raise up the Babylonians to defeat Judah! The prophet understood God’s purpose in using Babylon as a tool of judgment; but even then, “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?” (v. 13 niv). How could you let this happen, God?
Our commitment wavers. Our trust in God’s love, justice, and truth falters. Questions born of anxiety and anger fill our hearts. While we may know the “right” answers in our heads, we don’t want to hear them. We want God to operate on our terms. Our faith is shown to be conditional, limited, incomplete—perhaps not faith at all. And this is where we must wrestle, as Habakkuk did. We’ve cast doubt on the God in whom we claim to believe. We’ve disagreed with the One we claim is eternally wise. Fear fills our hearts, not just at the disaster we face but at the realization that something is amiss in the very foundations of our faith.
Our faith is renewed. (Hab. 2:2-20) For those of us whose questions and doubts flow from an honest heart, God opens our eyes. He illumines our minds and strengthens us to grasp the breadth of His love and vision for us. Our hearts are calmed when we grasp the big picture: • God sits on His heavenly throne, observing all that we do. (2:20) • God will bring everyone to judgment at the proper time. (2:4-20) • God gives us light for our pathway through the revelation of His Word. (2:2-3) • God often uses the folly of mankind to accomplish His will. (2:5-11) • God’s glory will ultimately fill the earth. (2:14)
God will accomplish His ends. The means may seem frightening at times, tempting us to dread, but there is no need. Whatever fear we feel can be displaced by faith in a God greater than the storm.
Faith displaces our fear. (Hab. 3:1-19) Habakkuk’s faith grew as he read God’s Word. Centuries earlier, the people of God had been slaves in Egypt, desperate and without hope. They questioned God’s promise, but He proved Himself faithful. He delivered them from an evil tyrant, one that seemed impossibly strong. If God did it then, He can do it again! Many of God’s people in Egypt failed to trust God, and in the face of slavery they succumbed to fear. Would Habakkuk join them in this failure, or would he walk the road of faith no matter how difficult it became? In that moment his complaint became a prayer, his challenge became praise, and his fear melted away. Habakkuk embraced God and His plan. He chose to rest in God, to honor His name, to stand firm. “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. . . . Though the olive crop fails . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (3:16-18). Once Habakkuk had settled the focus of his faith, he could rest in God’s arms, even as the foundations of his nation were crumbling around him. “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (3:19). n
Study Assignments • • •
Examine 1 Samuel 17, comparing the responses of King Saul and David to the taunts of Goliath. Consider the reasons they had for their fear and faith. Study Psalm 11 in light of the fears you harbor about your nation and your future. Write down how God wants you to respond to those fears. James 1 suggests that our faith in God and our wisdom in making decisions will mature if we let trials complete their task. What trials has God used in your life to develop your faith? How have they prepared you for the “crown of life”?
R e a l
W o r l d Economic Downturn A salesman grapples with difficult questions in a down economy: “Will my business survive? Is my job on the line? If things go wrong, how will I provide for my family?” Our panel offers perspective.
The Scenario A typically confident, optimistic businessman has not had much reason to celebrate lately. His sales for the year are down significantly, and market trends don’t bode well for a turnaround. He’s wondering . . . well, worrying, actually . . . about his future with the company. Layoffs have already occurred in his division, and rumor has it that more are on the way. Despite his fourteen years of service, he’s afraid. Every time his boss approaches him, he gets a lump in his throat. His savings are down, his debt is up, and he probably owes more on his house than he could sell it for. One of his close friends already lost his home due to similar circumstances. His wife and three school-aged children are depending on him. Truth be told, he hasn’t shared his anxieties with them—what good would that do? He finds himself lying awake at night feeling trapped and even hopeless, pondering endless “what ifs.”
As a father of four children, I can relate to your worries about providing. It’s frightening to feel like you are the only one standing between your kids and disaster. It helps me to remember that God is concerned about feeding my kids too. He created our bodies, and He made them to need food daily (Matt. 6:11). He isn’t ashamed of our need for money to buy necessities; but sometimes we are. It’s as if needing these things makes us weak or a failure. Acknowledging our needs to God and other Christians helps us embrace the truth that we are not self-sufficient. We need God and others—something that financial prosperity and “job security” can enable us to ignore. A friend recently made this profound observation as unemployment topped 10% in his hometown: “If nine employed Christians can’t take care of one that is unemployed, our problems are much bigger than economic.” He’s right! Practicing the “one anothers” of Scripture would take the fear out of unemployment for the Christian community. And what better testimony could there be to the reality of Christ in our midst than the way we care for those in need? I would encourage you to share your anxieties with a small group of Christian friends who can pray with you about your needs. And remember, you aren’t unemployed yet! Faith in God means beginning to practice the kind of giving to those in need that you may need from others in the future (2 Cor. 8:14). Del Fehsenfeld was trained as a family counselor and is the Senior Editor for Life Action Ministries.
God Is Your Source I was just beginning in my ministry when the unthinkable (at least in my mind) happened: I was laid off. I had just bought a new car, moved into a new apartment, and had a child—and the layoff was announced on our fourth wedding anniversary! God taught us some valuable lessons through this trial. The most important thing I learned was that God (not an employer) is my source. The fact that I had lost my job did not take God by surprise. We saw Him provide daily (Phil. 4:19), sometimes in miraculous ways. With no paycheck for almost three months, God paid every bill, and we lacked for nothing! We also learned frugal stewardship. God showed us ways we could stretch our resources. It’s very tempting to cut back on giving to the Lord’s work, but I believe we need to continue to honor God by putting Him first in giving. And thankfully, God is the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). As He comforts us in hard times, we can empathize with others who suffer similar circumstances. I prayed often, “Lord, let my reactions to this trial reflect Your character.” No matter what the future holds, God will use you to help others. Wilson Green pastored for 21 years in Virginia and Illinois before joining Life Action in 1999. He currently co-leads a Life Action summit team.
Seek God’s Kingdom Charles Spurgeon once commented, “Such strange creatures are we that we probably smart more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which do actually come.” In Matthew 6:33, Jesus counsels us not to worry about tomorrow. Instead, He urges us to concentrate on the fact that our loving and powerful heavenly Father will provide what we need each day. Further, Jesus knew that sometimes our anxiety about physical provision can become more important to us than
.com Resource Listen to an interview with pastor Bill Elliff as he shares how to combat fears facing Christians today at LifeAction.org/Fear.
eternal things. That’s why, in His counsel on worry, Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [everything you truly need] will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33 esv). Finally, you’re hiding your concerns from your wife in hopes that by your own effort and determination you’ll be able to hold everything together. But by doing this, you’ve cut yourself off from a critical source of help God has given you—her prayers, support, and counsel. I would encourage you to follow Paul’s advice for dealing with anxiety: 1) Remind yourself that the Lord is near; 2) reject the temptation to worry; 3) pray about your concerns; 4) focus your attention on all the blessings God has given you in Christ (Phil. 4:5-8). This wonderful news remains: No matter what happens in the economy, your Father will provide all you truly need in Christ Jesus. Elyse Fitzpatrick has been a counselor since 1989. She is the author of over a dozen books, including Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety (Harvest House, 2001).
Advice 1. Begin reading Proverbs daily, asking God to give you fresh wisdom for your money, work, and family. 2. Share your job concerns with your wife. By keeping her in the dark, you are denying her the ability to fulfill her God-given responsibility of being your helper. At a minimum, ask for her prayers. 3. Memorize Philippians 4:8. Every time you are tempted to worry, review the verse in your heart. 4. Take practical action now, while you still have income. Look for ways to reduce spending, pay down debts, and increase your emergency savings (Pro. 27:12). For helpful advice on this, consider reading Your Money Map by Howard Dayton or The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (available at www.ChristianBook.com). Also, visit www.crown.org for biblical counsel about money. 5. “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12 niv). Consider the plight of those who have lost jobs or homes, and pray about ways to assist them.
arned: This isn’t just a book that you read—this is a book you!
hs of personal and corporate revival unpacked in Ablaze Glory can spark a revolutionary encounter with God.
ready to be set on fire by the power of God’s presence? u’re ready for Ablaze!
Charles Colson Chairman, Prison Fellowship
ding Ablaze with His Glory, you will find yourself convicted, humbled, ducated, and excited about the necessity of revival.”
Ablaze with His Glory A plea for revival in our time
fully unpacks the truths of personal and corporate revival. But be warned: This isn’t just a book that you read—this is a book that reads you! Are you ready to be set on fire by the power of God’s presence? Ablaze can spark a revolutionary encounter with God. Forewords by Henry Blackaby and Byron Paulus; study guide included.
Sammy Tippit International evangelist and author
Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
gs have impacted my ministry more than the clarion call of this art for the glory of God to be on display in our day! No message n is more urgent, timely, or worth devoting your life to than the ned in this book.” Nancy Leigh DeMoss Radio host and author
Ablaze with His Glory Written by Del Fehsenfeld Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, Ablaze power-
A plea for revival in our time
enfeld deeply understood the nature of revival and was committed the church to radical repentance, holiness, and surrender to the of Christ—his is a message the church must hear.”
Forewords by Henry Blackaby and Byron Paulus
Ablaze with His Glory
ves “burning” men and women to every generation— commissioned by Him to boldly penetrate hearts and ablaze with revival and reformation. Del Fehsenfeld Jr. kind of man, and this book is a potent summation of message.
9 780982 022016
Del Fehsenfeld Jr.
Price : $9.99 Product #55613
This interactive study teaches twelve life-transforming principles of revival to help you experience a new level of intimacy with God. Each principle includes five days of study material for individual use, stories of how others have applied the teaching to their lives, and a “Making It Personal” application exercise. Seeking Him is also an excellent resource for small groups or Sunday school classes. Whether you’ve been a Christian for five days or five decades, this book will help you go deeper in your walk with Christ.
The Power of Desperation
Price : $12.99 (reg. $18.99) Product #56931
Michael Catt, pastor of the church that brought you the feature film “Fireproof,” has written a hope-filled book on how God turns the most desperate situations into defining moments in our lives. Combining biblical teaching with remarkable stories from years of pastoral experience, this book helps us understand how the trials of life can be a pathway to learn humility, brokenness, and the passionate pursuit of God.
Price : $14.99 Product #96251
Order through our online store at www.LifeAction.org/Fear, or call Customer Service at 800-321-1538.
P R AY E R S F O R C H A N G E
If you trust Christ, your soul—that which matters most— is safe. Consider God’s Word: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:35-38 nlt). Prayer is the pathway the Spirit uses to confirm these great and precious promises to our hearts. When facing your fears: • Ask God for a fresh sense of His presence. The fact that God is with you in every moment, through every storm, will change your perspective dramatically (Ps. 139:7-12). • Tell God your worries by name, transferring the ownership of the “care” to Him (1 Pet. 5:7). • Seek God’s perspective. He has a purpose for this crisis, and the light of Christ within you shines brightest in the darkest moments (Rom. 8:28). • Thank God for your position. Whatever lies ahead, you are a redeemed son or daughter of the King, guaranteed an inheritance in heaven (Eph. 1:3-11).
Under His Wings Under His wings I am safely abiding. Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me. He has redeemed me, and I am His child. Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow! How the heart yearningly turns to His rest! Often when earth has no balm for my healing, There I find comfort, and there I am blest. Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment! There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er; Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me. Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore. William Cushing, 1896
• Meditate on the truth. Fear intensifies when we fail to think about what is true, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). • Praise God for His power. Worship is the antidote to worry; fear dissipates when we take our eyes off of circumstances and focus on the greatness of our God (Acts 16:19-26).
We live in a world that is drowning in fear. It’s easy to feel bombarded and overwhelmed. Many times we may feel helpless and discouraged. These are natural responses to living in a broken, sinful world. But the Bible encourages us to reel in our emotions and move from fear to faith. Begin the following exercise by reading Psalm 37. This passage gives straightforward steps of action for conquering our fear.
1. Fret Not (Ps. 37:1) Before we can begin experiencing the joys of a faith-filled life, we must first root out of our hearts the fears that cloud our ability to love God wholeheartedly and live confidently for Him. Am I a fearful person? Check all that apply:
o o o o o o o o o o o o
Do I daydream or lie awake at night thinking about “what ifs”? Do I wake up in the morning with dread about the day ahead? Do I worry about what people are thinking about me? Do I avoid getting close to people for fear of getting hurt? Do I hoard money in hopes of feeling secure? Do my moods fluctuate with the stock market? Do I buy clothes or other items in hopes of being accepted? Do I take medications to suppress anxiety? Do I worry excessively about someone hurting me or my family? Do I avoid engaging emotionally with my spouse or children because of fear of failing them? Do I go overboard to protect myself or family from disease, accidents, or harm? Am I hesitant to be honest with people for fear of rejection?
What do I fear? Check the boxes that identify your worries:
o Fear of poor health o Fear of dying o Fear of failure o Fear of wrong decisions o Fear of poverty o Fear of not looking good enough o Fear of marital infidelity o Fear of having a wayward child o Fear of slander o Fear of ________________________
o Fear of losing my job o Fear of loneliness o Fear of the future o Fear of rejection o Fear of embarrassment o Fear of natural disasters o Fear of losing my home o Fear of being robbed or raped o Fear of terrorism o Fear of ________________________
2. Trust in the Lord (Ps. 37:3) Having a right view of God is essential to replacing fear with faith. What do I really believe about God? Y o o o o o o o o o
N o Do I believe God cares about me and has my best interests at heart? o Do I believe God pays attention to and rules over everything that can and will happen to me? o Do I believe that the hearts of all people, even the most wicked, are in Godâ€™s hand? o Do I believe God is powerful enough to help me through every trial and circumstance? o Do I believe God is my comforter when I am afraid? o Do I believe God is my protector even in the most severe crisis? o Do I believe God will provide for my needs? o Do I believe God can change my spouse or children? o Do I believe God can change me?
Make a list of additional characteristics of God that reveal His trustworthiness: ________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Wait for the Lord (Ps. 37:34) Faith is the antidote to fear. Fearful and faith-filled people experience the same circumstances, but faith-filled people respond by depending on God. Am I a fearful or faith-filled person?* Fearful People
o Fearful people get upset when the storms of life come.
o Faith-filled people rest in the providential care of God.
o Fearful people attempt to manipulate individuals and circumstances.
o Faith-filled people trust an all-powerful God for change.
o Fearful people trust in their own abilities and resources.
o Faith-filled people put their confidence in the faithfulness of God.
o Fearful people make decisions based on their changing emotions.
o Faith-filled people are guided by unchanging scriptural principles.
o Fearful people find their worth in accom- plishments and what others think of them.
o Faith-filled people find their value in who they are in Christ.
o Fearful people are too self-focused to trust God.
o Faith-filled people conquer fear by focusing on Godâ€™s presence and promises.
*This section adapted from Fret Not, a radio series on Psalm 37 by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
4. Commit Your Way to the Lord (Ps. 37:5) Today’s 24-hour news cycle floods us with a steady stream of fear-inducing information. What we choose to expose ourselves to can fuel our fears. Am I making lifestyle choices that undermine my faith? Y N o o Do I spend more time interpreting current events through the grid of secular media than through the Word of God and prayer? o o Do my entertainment choices fill me with negativity and hopelessness? o o Do I find that media intake is drowning out the voice of God in my life? o o Do I instinctively “turn on” media without first asking God how it will benefit me or others? o o Do I obsessively monitor my stock portfolio? o o Do I feel calloused to reports of the misfortune of others (crimes, scandals, accidents, natural disasters, wars)? o o Do I “go at it alone” rather than share my fears with a community of believers who help me think biblically in the face of fear?
5. Utter Wisdom, Speak Justice (Ps. 37:30) Part of cultivating a faith-filled life/culture is encouraging each other to trust the Lord when we are afraid. As Christians, we are called by God to fight fear together in our families, churches, and communities. Am I a “faith agent” in the world around me?
In my home: Y o o o o
N o Do I know the fears of my spouse and children, and do I pray for their victory? o Am I training my children to develop a right view of God? o Am I encouraging my family to put their security in things that are eternal? o Is my home a place of refuge where love casts out fear?
In my church: Y o o o o
N o Am I engaged in an authentic church community characterized by open, honest relationships? o Do people trust me enough to share their fears, knowing I won’t gossip or look down on them? o Do I ask people how I can pray for them? o Do I openly give God glory for the ways He demonstrates His faithfulness?
In my community: Y N o o Do I pray for my community to be a place of peace, free from unhealthy fears? o o Do I know my neighbors well enough that they can share their fears with me? o o Am I a peacemaker in my words, attitudes, and actions within my community? o o Do I volunteer in the name of Jesus at places where fear rages (homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, foster care, prisons, etc.)? o o Do I model trust in God and share my testimony of how Jesus sets people free from fear? “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 30 LifeAction.org/revive
Worry-free doesn’t mean care-free
won’t consider this issue of Revive a success if you let go of your fears, trust God for life’s outcomes, and relax in a quiet-yet-confident Christian existence. I know, that would be heaven on earth. And that’s the problem. If God wanted you in heaven, you’d already be there. No, the elimination of worldly worries is only part of the faith equation. The rest—that which makes life worth living—is when I step out and boldly obey God. Instead of, “What will I eat? What will I wear?” I seek first God’s kingdom. Instead of wondering what comforts I’ll enjoy or what rights I’ll claim, I start to care about the lives I’ll impact and the purpose I’ll serve. I replace my earthly fits and frets with an eternal, divine, world-shaking, adventurous mission. Faith doesn’t free me from care; it frees me to care about the right things. Faith isn’t a shell fashioned for comfort; it’s a shield forged for battle. It gives me confidence to take on God’s Great Commission. Just after Paul’s illustration of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6, he submits a prayer request to his readers: Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Eph. 6:19-20 niv). Here he is, sitting in jail, chained because of his witness for Christ . . . praying for even more opportunities to witness, and that he would be fearless! He wasn’t worried about his court hearings, his release date, the bruises from his last beating, or who would keep his tent business running in the meantime. There was only one care in his world worth mentioning. What’s the next step, for those of us who move
from fear to faith? It’s the step Abram took when he set out toward the unseen Promised Land; it’s the step Moses took after putting his shoes back on; it’s the step Daniel took when he learned of the king’s decree; it’s the step Peter took when he saw a curious crowd gathering at Pentecost; it’s the step Paul took when he stood up among the philosophers of Athens; it’s the step someone took that led to your first encounter with the gospel. The next step is found in Matthew 28:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 5:20. It’s leaving your fear-based excuses behind: “They won’t listen.” “I can’t speak.” “My health is bad.” “I’m too old.” “I’m too young.” “I’m not a traveler.” “I don’t have the money.” “I don’t know the answers.” “I’m not ready.” Jesus promised that “all these things will be given to you as well” if you “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). My Christian friend, there is no reason to fear. We serve One who is greater and more powerful and more loving than we can imagine. Our names are written in His book, our eternal destiny guaranteed by His Spirit. He has a world-changing mission in mind for us. He requires only our faith-filled obedience:
free me from care; it frees me to care about the right things.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). n
Daniel W. Jarvis Managing Editor
P.O. Box 31, Buchanan, MI 49107 269-697-8600 • www.LifeAction.org
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Life Action Ministries
R E V I VA L M I N I S T R I E S
Igniting movements of authentic Christianity Since 1971, Life Action Ministries has been calling God’s people to God’s presence. Our family of outreaches is igniting movements of Christ-centered revival among God’s people in innovative, life-changing ways: •
Summits and THIRST conferences for local churches
Revive Our Hearts publishing, conferences, and daily radio for women
Life Action Camp for families
Retreats at The Lodge for ministry leaders
Collegiate Impact for universities
Cutting-edge resources, such as Seeking Him for small groups, Revive magazine and the Infuse podcast for personal renewal, and Heartcry Journal for pastors
Visit www.LifeAction.org to find out more about how Life Action Ministries is for you!