Giant Fear, the one’s that scare me…probably don’t scare you!

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m afraid of facing the Giant problems that seem to always hang out in my life…. finances, health, my kids, my work… retirement ! (you fill in your blank)

These are after all, huge and massive things, that are far bigger and stronger than I am and each one seems to bulge with muscles and bones big enough to crush me in a single swipe, unaffected by my pitiful resistance to their presence. The biggest of these GIANT issues in my life and most of our lives is the same core or root issue….FEAR! Jack-the-Giant-Slayer

So as a Christian, a parent and a pastor… I/we all have to face our fears if we can ever hope to live beyond being a hostage to those fears, restless with sleepless nights and repeated doses of Pepto-Bismo!

Some of my hugest problems don’t scare me, others do. The one’s that scare me, probably don’t scare you ! Nevertheless, you get the point. We can’t run from all our Giants, we have to face them.

The bible talks about giants… Caleb and the sons of Anak, in Hebron. David and Goliath of Philistia and so on… they were reputed to be more than fable or myth, but literal giants of significant size and super-human strength. Guys you didn’t mess with casually, so much so that all but a handful of men in the Old Testament fled their presence at all cost. (10 of the 12 Hebrew spies bailed on entering their promise land of Canaan because of these same giants, and an entire Israelite army under King Saul wouldn’t dare to fight a single giant who challenged them to place their trust and strength in God) jack-the-giant-slayer-banner-3

So, that’s interesting history (yawn)…But how do WE kill the giants in our life, specifically the biggest and baddest ones of all… like ANXIETY or FEAR?

Fear is awful. It grabs us and squeezes the air out of lives. Handling something as overwhelming as Fear all alone is a Huge Mistake (pun intended) ! However,  I do believe we can overcome such massive giants simply by making regular time in our schedules to spend with God. Taking time to invest in reading from the sacred scriptures, meditating on his character and in asking for help from him in regular prayer. (Free Daily Audio Bible Download Link) . Devotion to your maker combined with taking the risk to be involved in a local church family and I believe you will have every giant you engage on the run…

In the shadow of the bible and the whole of eternity…FEAR the larger, fades into fear the lessor… and then into history as you allow the presence of God (the Holy Spirit) to overshadow your mind and heart and re-center your thoughts around Jesus and the power unleashed at Calvary. That power is ours to tap. YES it is. Not a theory, not a wishful naiveté, but a legit resource to use in every moment of our lives. That truth of resurrection combined with scripture promises, makes for the most potent weapon we have to kill giants.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

(2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible)

No other person on the earth knows what our fears feel like but Jesus. No other person on earth has successfully and fully defeated the giant of fear altogether but Jesus. Others have grown to be legendary figures of faith, guys like Abraham, Moses, the Apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah etc…) but they all did so exactly the same way… by keeping their perspectives on their God and not the freakishly huge problems that loomed right in front of them, just like they do for us.

Courtesy - Chronicles of Narnia

Courtesy – Chronicles of Narnia

Superhero’s don’t exist… Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah does, and he alone has conquered Fear, Death and the effects of Shame & Guilt. It’s time to stop fighting giants all by yourself.

Invite him (Jesus) to step fully into your heart and mind and save you from the GIANT that’s paralyzing your life. Go ahead… take the chance, trust him with your _________ (fill in the blank) fear.

Then watch in amazement as your courage becomes conviction as you walk behind the one who has real answers to life’s overwhelming fears…  “JESUS !”

As parents we know our kids are really watching us and how we handle our fears is a significant example we can set for them. Good or Bad.

“Lord Give us the Courage to TRUST you and the strength to FOLLOW you” AMEN.

Peace out RTP! Love, Pastor Brad.

Selling to our most important customer…our kids.

Alright parents, time to take a break. Let’s all step back from our parenting perches for just a minute and take five. Big breath, in… hold…let it out. Okay. What’s the big picture look like for you…? What’s the point of parenthood anyway, is it creating kids who dress, talk and act like we do?… No way.

What is it we really want for our kids ?

It’s a fair question. Is the goal to create another “mini-me”, to re-brand our Christianity into a franchise of superficial behaviors and outward compliance?  Or… is it to shape, build and prepare our young adults to enter life confidently, settled, secure.

To help them discover and follow their unique God-given value, identity and purpose? That’s as great goal in my mind. If that’s your goal, if its your desire to really engage your kids, really empower them to follow your faith and values and principles… won’t those just become natural concepts for them to gradually understand, appreciate and eventually pick up for themselves, if they see it at home?The bible seems to say so

Proverbs 22:6 in The Message translation says this…6Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.”  (biblegateway.com)

I mean is it possible, we’re holding onto the proverbial parenting reins just a bit too tightly? Really pulling back in fear or anger on the leads, twisting and holding on for dear life, trying to direct our kids into the next tight corner that life is throwing at them… desperate to keep them on the road and out of a ditch…, careful to keep them from the path of pain and turmoil and confusion and loss. If your honest, you’ll recognize that there are days, even weeks or months when we do. I do. My wife does and  I’m confident if you really consider it…we all do.

Here’s the truth… living out your faith isn’t just a church thing, it isn’t just a devotional on sunday thing…it’s not just praying before meals or avoiding the use of bad language without fail. NO!  It’s got to be more about our hearts and theirs. If our hearts are regularly lingering in the presence of God, our lives will be ridiculously difficult to ignore. I mean, we’ll have a huge surplus of “Life” in us, hungry to learn, to explore to discover! We’ll have a greater capacity to “Love” and be loved, to be compassionate and patient… and we’ll re-discover our dulled sense of “Humor” ! (well that’s not exactly in the bible…but I believe it’s true 🙂 – especially if you substitute a genuine sense of humor with the established  biblical concept of “Joy”)

What are we selling?

If we as parents were to really “Live, Love and Laugh” through our lives with our kids, the principles and beliefs we claim to have will start to be their own… and we’ll actually enjoy being a family together. Our lives will be like a prime time “commercial” for the Kingdom of God.(side-note: I don’t mean to imply… a perfectly photo shopped, not a care in the world, always euphoric dinner commercial, but an honest -“reality”of life commercial with a setting of genuine faith,hope and purpose) People around us will want to “know” what we believe and how we can be so content with the lives we live.

The conversations will be natural, unprompted, un-characteristically simple and sincere… and they will be potent with the authentic power of genuine faith. Faith that believes what the bible says, faith that holds onto the promises of God to guide, and provide and protect us through life. It’s better than what Allstate guarantees, more comprehensive than State Farm’s coverage and it will satisfy way more than a Snickers, it’s the faithfulness of God…and it’s priceless.

I think in the end… our kids will “buy” that.

Peace out RTP friends,

brad.

The surprising debate… is there actually such a thing as Evil or Satan?

I’m casually listening to talk radio, enjoying my country commute on my way home …when I hear a surprising conversation unfold between the national talk show host and a young male caller… it went something like this;

Rick Santorum

Caller – “So why do Republican’s like Rick Santorum  (link to 2008 speech article with the Chicago SunTimes) have to talk openly about evil and satan as if they are real and not myth? I mean, if they (Christian politicians) would just stay away from talking about evil and satan, than mainstream voters might actually take them seriously”

Host – shocked… pauses and then says something like this; ” You mean to tell me you don’t believe in evil? You don’t believe in evil people and events like Hitler and Stalin and 911? Who do you think is the source of that evil?”

Caller – ” Look, the old ways of looking at good vs. bad is out of date, people know that there is no such thing as the devil or a red guy in hell with pitchfork and a tail…Evil is not an entity, or a force in the world, it’s the result of unchecked fear and anger and indoctrination”

Host – shocked and irritated… ” Seriously, you’re suggesting that evil is just a by-product of the human condition, that people are really innocent and just victims of circumstance, so there is no real “right or wrong” just mis-understoods?”

The discussion degenerated from there with the caller suggesting the host was actually guilty of being such a mis-guided, angry, fear monger, an on air idea bully, who was every bit as evil in the callers view as the historical criminals the host had used as examples…The host hangs up on the caller in frustration and rants a raves about the overall degeneration of the American culture and the loss of our basic principles of morality etc… warning the listeners that if we’re not careful, the legal system in the US will become a vehicle by which the liberals will destroy and shut down talk radio as being a “evil” influence and trample our constitutional rights as citizens etc..

Satan as depicted in the "Passion of the Christ" movie

I was disturbed by the conversation, as I drove I considered what the words implied or suggested about where we might be heading as a country, as a culture as a society. But my concern was more focused on the fact the young caller had no context for Faith or Truth beyond a secular education and it bothered me that the caller never even seemed to consider that there could in fact be a source of evil in the world. That the teachings of the bible could contain some intellectual merit, or even a fraction of believable truth behind them.

He blew off two thousand years of historical Judeo-Christian influence in a heartbeat in favor of a Godless-devil-less world view that only considered the existence of evil as a by-product of organized religion. The bible was not even a consideration in his decision-making process… not even the most basic facts that it upholds… of Good and Evil.

Whew…. now that IS scary.

As a Christian… as a parent; I am reminded afresh of the need to be extra diligent with the way I interact with the next generation that God has intrusted us/me to protect and teach and guide. Fear based living is a devastating tragedy and not biblical, but ignorance of the existence of Good vs. Evil  is way worse in my humble opinion. I believe there actually is a devil, that one of his names is satan and he is alive and well on planet earth, actively seeking to undermine and influence those of us who blissfully insist he’s not real.

I’m not suggesting as Christians we perpetuate an absurd image of a pitchfork carrying,  red skinned grinning joker of a guy with stubby horns and tail. No, I’m actually referring to someone who is much more engaging than that; someone or something that can appear kind and compassionate, complex, beyond elegant, beyond beautiful, adept and deceptive, logical and brilliant, with impeccable logic,  whose sole mission is to deceive mankind into NOT believing God or His words (bible), but casually suggesting in his charade that man doesn’t need God and can easily afford to shrug off the potential for  any real consequences  from our choices. The one in the garden who seduced Eve and began the entire chapter of our human suffering and sin.

It’s becoming ever clearer, given today’s cultural multi-faceted attacks on anyone who claims to endorse biblical values or faith based lifestyles, millions of kids (like the caller) must now by default be growing up without any reference point for morality, for truth, for faith… unable to discern Good or Evil for themselves.…If, as parents we’re not  intentional, we may risk our kids growing up without the truth, believing what that young caller had subscribed to… a modern philosophy of man existing as the center of the world, (Humanism) and the false assumption that the bible and existence of a fallen supernatural angel are simply empty stories to be dismissed. If that happens broadly in our culture to an entire generation of kids over the next decade…… ?

Sobering thought…Let’s agree together to NOT let that happen. We must engage our kids in discussion, dialogue and truth about Good and Evil, about God and the devil and this years presidential political controversy is a great opportunity to start !

Peace out, RTP.

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PS – (RoadTrip Parenting is NOT a political blog, neither are we taking a public position on who to support for the 2012 presidential race etc… the comments and references to Rick Santorum are meant for illustration of the point and for reference to the actual conversation on the radio)