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Friday, April 5, 2013

What are You Afraid Of?

You can watch the video of this sermon here.

Several things have terrified me over the years; here are a few I remember: Being trapped under a canoe when I was 10, being involved in a high speed wreck on the interstate at age 19 (I was driving), passing out gospel tracts outside a, “Gentlemen’s Club” in Fort Worth while in seminary, and trying to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Other things tempt me to fear now. Last Saturday Kat took Noelle to an Easter egg hunt at a local plant nursery. The event was to start at 10:00 am; Kat and Noelle were there early. Children and parents were instructed to wait until told to begin. But some parents after hearing these instructions allowed their children to pick up eggs right away. Then the hunt started a few minutes early. Once it began, older kids scooped up as many eggs as they could right in front of smaller children. Families that showed up on time were too late, the eggs were gone, and their children were crying. Noelle saw this, Kat explained what was going on, and then Noelle laid her eggs back down so some of these kids could have eggs to find. Then the same bigger kids came back and took the eggs Noelle laid down for the newcomers. I say that not to brag on Noelle, she has the same propensity for selfishness that everyone does. What concerns me is to think of parents with no desire to teach their children to honor God, but rather they allow their kids to do what comes naturally to them, which is to be selfish, and for the stronger to take advantage of the weaker. You may have heard older teachers tell stories that at one time parents typically backed up disciplinary efforts that a teacher deemed necessary. However now, I’m told, more parents automatically take the side of the child over the word of the teacher and refuse to believe their child could possibly be guilty of what they are being accused of.

Our culture is racing toward an entitlement mentality where people aren’t held responsible for their actions. I listened to a story recently that talked about the wild increase in disability payments through Social Security, fueled by personal injury lawyers convincing people that the government owes them a living, for sometimes relatively minor disabilities. Add to this an obsession among many young men with violent video games, along with an abuse of cell phones among some teens for sexting, taking pictures, and shooting videos of sex acts among them. Finally, there is the wildly rapid redefinition of marriage in our culture that would say, even to those of us who want to take a compassionate approach in ministering to homosexual persons, that anything less than the open celebration of gay marriage, means we are bigots. These are the things that if I don’t take steps to block, provoke me to fear.

But fear is not a mark of a disciple of Jesus. Jesus chided his disciples once after a genuinely life threatening incident, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Fear dishonors God. Furthermore, the fear of circumstances leads to panic and paralysis but the fear of God leads to peace and productivity so we can make a difference in the real problems around us. Sunday at Bethany Place, I’m beginning a three-week series called, “What are you Afraid Of?” I believe that what God has prepared me to share could significantly change the way you handle temptations to fear. I hope to see you here. Following are the details for all three messages:

What are you Afraid of? The Politics of Fear
April 7: Fear of Circumstances: Mark 4:35-41
April 14: Fear of Dangerous People: Mark 5:1-20
April 21: Fear of Sickness and Death: Mark 5:21-43 

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