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Courage and Fear

January 2nd, 2017

Courage and fear are mutually exclusive

 “Jesus came to them, walking on the water.” Mark 6:48 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about “courage and fear.”

Life involves some frightening moments. A new year may include new uncertainties, challenges you must navigate with faith rather than fear. Or you may carry concerns with you from the year just concluded. A change of calendar does not exempt you from the same or similar concerns. And a new year may introduce problems you do not anticipate. There is good news for either possibility.

Mark records an instance of miracles on either shore of the Sea of Galilee, as well as a harrowing night of panic, fear, and despair of survival between those miracles. Read Mark 6:45-56 NLT. In the first miraculous event, at the end of a day of teaching and ministry Jesus fed a crowd of thousands with just a boy’s small lunch. In the second, Jesus healed many of the sick and suffering who were brought to Him. Between these two exhilarating experiences was a perilous, night time journey across about four miles of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus had sent His disciples ahead of Him while He remained to pray. In the dark of night in the middle of Galilee, the disciples encountered a life-threatening storm – too far to return to where they were safe, yet too far to journey on to where they would be safe. Men, well acquainted with the sea, despaired of survival. Mark described them as, “in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.” I love the description of Jesus’ arrival, “Jesus came to them walking on the water . . then He climbed into the boat and the wind stopped.” Who walks on water except God? Who commands the wind and sea and they obey?

I observe two things. The wind and waves that threatened and frightened them were exactly the elements that carried Jesus to them. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV. When Jesus comes, the frightening elements are calmed and profound peace displaces fear. You can face any storm with Jesus alongside.

The Psalmist knew the only Source of true peace, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” Psalm 61:2-3/23:4 NKJV. In His presence, you are always safe.

In whatever circumstance, now or in the unforeseen days ahead, you will discover Jesus alongside you. What frightens you today? World events? Health issues? Marriage challenges? Family concerns? Job insecurity? Inadequate finances? Uncertain future? God will come to you, even in the turbulent waters that threaten. Courage and fear are mutually exclusive. Fear will overwhelm you unless faith displaces fear with courage.

Today, I pray for you to discover a new courage in whatever you encounter on your journey.

Christian Communications 2016

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Bizarre Behavior

July 26th, 2013

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him.”  Mark 5:6 NKJV

Regret apart from repentance and restoration will never bring you freedom.

My thoughts and comments today are about “bizarre behavior.”

People are capable of bad behavior, regardless of nationality, gender, geography, education, financial, or social standing. Common sense does not come automatically with any of those. People do unexplainable things, though it makes no sense to behave in destructive ways, typically hurtful to others and predictably harmful to one’s self. Some people do that all too frequently, usually unexplainable even to themselves. Everyone has had an occasion when you ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” Probably, your baffled explanation was, “I wasn’t thinking!”

Any person is capable of conduct embarrassing to themselves and bewildering to those who know them. Bizarre behavior is not as spontaneous and inexplicable as you might first think. Such behavior exposes an inner life lacking good judgment and little thought of consequence. The consequence is normally worse than previously considered. What begins as private thought can soon become public conduct. The bad news is that there is much damage that is irreparable; the good news is that all you have done is redeemable.

Mark reports Jesus’ encounter with a man whose behavior was bizarre. You will find hope in this first tragic then triumphant story of God’s grace and power. See Mark 5:1-6 NKJV. Here’s his story – the very definition of bizarre. The source of his strange behavior was spiritual. Mark’s account does not suggest that all bizarre behavior is demonic, as was true in this instance. But there is always a spiritual dynamic to wrong pursuits and passions that are controlling and eventually uncontrollable. His behavior imposed estrangement from others, worsening his isolation and despair. His actions were unconstrained, even irrepressible, in spite of his own efforts and the best attempts of others. As a result, he experienced self-disgust which produced a spiral of self-destructive behavior. (Verses 2-5).

However long he had struggled and suffered, there was some vestige of his former self that longed to be free and could recognize that Jesus alone was his solution. Whatever you have done and wherever you have strayed, come running to the Savior. “When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped Him.” Verse 6. Your wise response is to allow no regret over your past or present failures keep you from Jesus. Regret apart from repentance and restoration will never bring you freedom. Paul addressed this in these words, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV.

Your struggle may not be as extreme as his, but your need can be as real as his. Unbecoming behavior is not the private reserve of the worst among us. Jesus braved a violent storm at sea to meet a man with a tragic storm in his soul. To both, Jesus said, “Peace be still! . . and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:35-41. There was a happy ending for him, as there will be for you.

After his encounter with Jesus, “They came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon possessed . . sitting and clothed and in his right mind.” Mark 5:15 NKJV. Changed completely; freed absolutely; satisfied fully. See 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV/1 Peter 1:13 NIV/Colossians 3:1-3 NIV. New beginnings are available. “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:23 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that your first response is always to come to Jesus.

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