Fear

Posted: September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

fear

Fear is a powerful thing.  Fear can control our behavior and crush our spirits.  We may have lofty goals, dreams and plans, but fear of failing can keep us from even trying to make these a reality. Sure, fear of failure affects lots of people. But how about us? Let’s start off by taking a short quiz.
Answer each of these questions honestly:
•    Do you ever put off doing something because you’re “not sure how it will turn out”?
•    Do you avoid situations where you will have to try something new in front of people?
•    Have you ever put off doing something you know will improve your life, even though you have “no good reason” not to do it?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above questions, you’re not alone. Most people are in this self-defeating boat with you.  Ask the average person why they haven’t accomplished their goals yet, and fear of failure will always crop up as the #1 block to success for most people, most of the time.
When it comes to starting a business, any successful person will tell you that the fastest way to succeed is to jump in, make things happen, and be OK with failing repeatedly. “Fail fast and fail often” is a saying you’ve probably heard in entrepreneurial circles.  Thomas Edison, after thousands of unsuccessful attempts to make a functioning light bulb, was asked about his apparent failure.  He replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Why don’t we all have this sort of attitude?  Through all our years of school we are graded on getting the right answer the first time.  Most schoolchildren learn early that if they fail, they get a big, red F on their paper — and all the unpleasantness that goes along with that.  This means that by the age of 18, you’ve been very effectively trained to fear failure. You’ve certainly not been trained to embrace failure as a key step in learning.
When it comes to matters of faith, Satan knows our susceptibility to fear, and as a consequence uses fear as a weapon against us.  He is very good at this.  Satan knows our areas of weakness, our places of vulnerability, and attacks us there.  He capitalizes on our fears and insecurities in order to keep us from being faithful and doing what God has intended for us to do.    Mark Hall, lead singer and songwriter of the Christian band Casting Crowns suffers from ADD and dyslexia.  These conditions kept him from stepping out for God when he was younger.  As he grew older and was feeling that God was calling him to music ministry, Satan continued to use Mark’s feelings of “not being good enough” to hold him back.  Finally, Mark was able to confront his fears and his feelings of inadequacy and listen to the voice of Jesus calling him into ministry.  The story of this spiritual battle can be found in the song “Voice of Truth” from Casting Crowns’ first album.
I have quoted the mission statement of the United Methodist church before: “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.”  We have a mission here in Erin  and Sullivanville.  I know we have plans for our church and I know we have dreams about what our church can become.  I also know that there are concerns and fears.  Like many churches like ours, we worry about our aging congregation.  We want to be viewed as relevant and meaningful in our communities, but we wonder how to attract more young families. We stress over how to make ends meet.
We need to set our sights high.  Too often we are concerned with survival.  What we need to know is that God has bigger plans for us.  He wants more for us than to simply survive.  We were created to thrive.  God’s dream for us is to be a city on a hill, to be a source of hope, and love and joy, to show others what a life of faith can do.  We need to overcome our doubts, we need to dream big, we need to not be afraid of failure.  In the words of hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  We have faithful hearts, we have willing hands.  We have people with skills, abilities and passion.  As your pastor, I will do everything I can to make our dreams a reality.  But like struggling Christians through the ages, we have something more …

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.  Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear.”

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