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Archive for the ‘choices’ Category

In Like a Flood: How to Overcome the Onslaught of Evil in Our World

In Bible, choices, faith, fear, God, Jesus, prayer, Scripture, terror on September 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world. Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

When I was a child, the nightly news seemed like a foreign movie. It seemed that everything evil happened on the other side of the planet, far from our suburban home.

When we went to church and heard the Holy Scriptures, sometimes one of those news stories would surface in the sermon and the pastor would use it as an example that God was seriously going to punish those who did evil—but not here in the United States. At least that’s how I interpreted the sermon. After all, we’re all safe here in the good ol’ US of A, right? Sure, we had our crime as any country does, but generally, my view of America was that we are the peacemakers, the humanitarians—the civilized.

As Christians, we are called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ across the globe, but the uncivilized, dangerous and evil people were handled by missionaries. These were people specifically called by God to leave the comfort of their American home, travel to a jungle and tell the natives they need Jesus.  At home, we would dutifully pray the Lord of the Harvest to send workers to the fields to gather in the lost souls as Jesus told us too—but secretly we’d pray: please, Lord, don’t send me!

With the truly sacrificial duties left to the missionaries, we could focus on gossiping and judging each other; arguing about what color the carpeting should be in the new sanctuary and snubbing those who dared to enter our place of worship unkempt. After all, did God not say we must be holy and separate from the world?

Now our children kill other children for fun. Our teens set off bombs in our streets. Our junior high boys stock up ammo in their room and bring it to school so they can shoot as many people as possible.

How did this happen on our soil? The talking heads have endless theories and solutions, and some of it may indeed help, but those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior can no longer play church. Evil is here, in our homes, our schools, our churches and streets. Evil has come in like a flood and we will quickly drown in it if we don’t pay attention and get on our knees. We can no longer pretend that the bad stuff happens off shore. We can no longer just put a dollar in a church envelope as the offering plate passes by and smugly feel good that we’ve blessed someone somewhere.

The ancient book of Isaiah, Chapter 59, practically describes our country word-for-word. Life is bleak and overwhelmingly hopeless and our own sins have brought dark consequences upon us. Justice flees from us; peace eludes us and shedding blood is a sport. What can good people do? We try to live good lives and we give our time and money to help others, so what do we do about all this evil in our beloved country? Many snipe at the government, others snipe at the school system, the justice system, the lack of two parents in the home, etc., etc. Yes, all these are factors in our dilemma, but not one of them alone released this flood of evil into our streets.

In fact, none of the solutions we concoct matter in a flood–all that matters is survival, and undoubtedly, a flood of evil is here. It is sweeping away our religious traditions, setting our church buildings on fire and driving us into corners of fear and hopelessness.

Is there no answer?

In verse 19 of Isaiah 59, the Lord proclaims that, “When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Though this chapter is written to Israel, God is the same everywhere, and He will not allow evil to destroy those who love Him. Interestingly, the west is mentioned in the first part of the verse:

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

God will save us, America, but we must fear only Him. We must call upon Him with repentant hearts and pure motives. This flood of evil rushing over our precious land, threatening to devour our families will not prevail if we get on our knees now and call out to the only One Who is mighty to save!

The church was never meant to be a building for good people to gather and revel in their goodness while everyone else gets what they get. The church is here to represent the unconditional love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who loved us so much He chose to pay the penalty of our sin so we could be delivered from evil.

What will you choose? Will you drown in the flood of evil, or will you embrace the standard that God raises against it and look to Him for your salvation?

~ CCS

How to Know God

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP “The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world.”

The Prayer Chair

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, death, God, Heaven, Jesus on May 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Ledersessel

Daddy met Jesus in person in the same place he met him in prayer every morning.  It was a burgundy recliner, worn from the years and matted down by the sweat of many days of hard work. Next to it was his abandoned Bible with a duct-taped spine. He didn’t need it anymore because he left earth with its Author.

If you read my column regularly, you know my dad died in January, 2011. Each month’s article in 2012 was written in honor of the life he lived and the godly inheritance he left me and my brothers. I know I have completely mourned his passing, but the other day on my way to church a song on the radio opened up my eyes to something I hadn’t seen before, something about the place where he died.

The song, by Chris Rice, was Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus), one of my favorites. I was just singing along, relishing the reminder that I am loved by a wonderful Savior when the last verse of the song burst my heart open:

And with your final heartbeat,
Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory`s side… and

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live,

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live!

Extreme joy flooded my whole being, forcing a cool stream of tears from my eyes. In my mind’s eye, I saw my Daddy in his prayer chair looking up into the eyes of his Savior who personally came to take him home.

How do I know that’s how it happened? Well, according to my mom, Daddy, came downstairs that Wednesday afternoon and sat in his recliner next to hers to have a fruit cup and watch TV. He had just spent about an hour snow-blowing the six-to-eight inches of snow that had fallen the night before and was worn out. Within seconds of sitting down, he was in the midst of a massive heart attack. Mom jumped up when she saw his contorted face and said, “I’m calling 911!” Daddy said, “No don’t.”

The paramedics were there in minutes and later, one of them told us that when they got him into the ambulance, they tried to put a nitro-glycerin tablet under his tongue to help jump-start his heart. Daddy closed his lips tight so they wouldn’t put it in his mouth and shook his head, “No.”

In the ER, a doctor and his team worked on his chest with paddles, shocking his heart over and over when all of a sudden Daddy lifted his hands and waved them all off, shook his head as if to say, “No more,” and died.

Why would someone in the midst of such a life-threatening crisis refuse the help of capable hands? I believe it’s because Daddy finally got to look into the eyes of the One Who created him in his mother’s womb; the One Who saved him from a deadly fall after a night of drinking with his U.S. Air Force buddy in Berlin in 1956. I believe it’s because he got to look full into the perfect face of the One Who gave him a new life that night so long ago when he embraced the cross of Jesus Christ as payment for his sin—an acquittal from the damaging choices he had made up to that point. Daddy wanted to go home! He wanted to fly to Jesus and live!

Do you have a prayer chair? Do you have a place where you meet your Creator in person every morning, a place where you feed your soul for the day? My Daddy did and now I do, too. Every day I long to look into those forever eyes like my Daddy did on that day. I want to know Him, the Father of Lights, as he is called in the Bible. I want to know Him so completely that when it is my time to leave this earth and He comes to take me home, nothing on this earth will keep me here. My prayer chair will be empty and my Bible will be there next to it because I will be with its Author, the World’s Best Father!

Deliver Us From Evil

In choices, God, help, Jesus, judging, parenting, plots, terror on May 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva

“America took my kids away from me,” said a woman who is wanted in the U.S. on a felony charge; a woman who left her two sons here to fend for themselves.

This woman, the mother of the Boston bombers, wailed and screamed into a camera on the other side of the world, blaming America for framing her sons, suggesting that we poured red paint all over Boston’s Boylston Street to simulate blood and stage the unconscionable bombing in April.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva rocked back and forth in her seat, flapping her arms up and down at what appeared to be a press conference from Dagestan, crying, “I thought America was going to, like, protect us, our kids, it’s going to be safe,” she told reporters. “But it happened, opposite. My kids just — America took my kids away from me.”

I do not begrudge a grieving mother her words while in a state of shock, and rarely do I write opinion pieces on news stories, but this particular rant smacked me in the face.

America is many things, but we did not stage the bombings in Boston that killed and maimed our citizens like a Hollywood movie set just so we could create a reason to kill her sons. While details are still flowing in on the Boston bombings, my point is simple: America is not responsible for the choices those bombers made. Those boys researched how to make those bombs. They planned their entire route and where to place those bombs. They stood there on our streets with utter contempt for us and detonated those bombs without as much as a flinch. They walked calmly away as everyone around them instinctively rushed to help their fellow Americans.

No, Mrs. Tsarnaeva, America didn’t take your kids from you. You left them here and they took our welfare checks, they took our pressure cookers, they took the lives of our citizens and maimed hundreds of innocent Americans who were out celebrating patriotism.

As disturbing as this woman’s claims are, hers is only one voice amongst a growing army of radicals who believe that America is evil and must be eliminated. That is downright sick. To some of you, it stinks of Nazism, for you remember all too well the atrocities Hitler perpetrated on the Jews. But America is not the only target of radicals. Dictators around the world continue to spew their venom of hatred towards other nations and people groups.

Such is the voice and the ways of evil, right? I mean, what can we do? We are just innocent citizens minding our own business, working for a living and hoping none of that crazy stuff happens in our town, or on our street, right? Ask that of the couple whose boat became famous the night Suspect #2 climbed into it to hide from the cops. They were just minding their own business in their quiet little suburban home and in an instant the entire world was watching every movement in their backyard.

My fellow Americans, now is the time to fall on our knees and plead with the God who formed this great nation to intervene on our behalf. Now is the time to put our faith and trust in the only One who can conquer the forces of evil in our land. But know this: God gave us a will. He doesn’t interfere with our lives unless He is asked. It’s time to ask.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Deliver us from evil.

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 10

In choices, divorce, fear, fiction, love, marriage, relationships, single on October 4, 2011 at 12:02 am

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel is absorbed in Mrs. Stone’s book of poetry amidst a restless sea of defendants and plaintiffs, all waiting for their day in court. It’s 9:45 AM.

___________________

When lies are love and love is a lie

When truth is pain one can’t deny

How does a heart fulfill its vow

When fear refuses to allow

The lie to live within its walls

Or let grace heal us when it calls

“Rachel?” My attorney sits down next to me as if to wake me from a deep sleep; his voice sounds distant and muffled. I look at him and can see in his eyes that I have changed.

“Rachel, they’ve cancelled our hearing and they can’t give us a reschedule date so I’ll call you, okay?”

I nod my head, unconnected from the news that my dissolution was again delayed. Steve had still not arrived and for some odd reason that bothered me, not in a disgust sort of way but more like a longing—like I wished he were there.

“Are you okay?” Jeff’s face was closer now, his look tense.

“Yeah—yes, I’m okay.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said, standing up and straightening his tie. “Let’s stop by Sully’s for a drink, my treat.”

Normally, I would have relished such an offer—especially from him—but this wasn’t an offer; he sensed something had changed in me and it unsettled him. Something had changed, but neither of us knew what it was.

“No thanks,” I said as I stuffed Mrs. Stone’s journal in my briefcase. “I need to get back to work. There are some issues that need my attention and a pile on my desk that won’t go away unless I show up …”

“You dodging,” he interjected. “What’s going on Rachel?”

We board the elevator with another attorney and client pair, orbiting some crucial strategy for their case and I clam up. The lines from that last poem have me paralyzed. I wrestle under its tethers—its voice screaming at my soul in a faint whisper: When fear refuses to allow

My mind butts into the conversation and attempts to apply logic: Is that what is wrong with me? Did I drive Steve away because I was afraid his love for me was a lie? Have I not extended years of grace to him already? When is it time to move on?

“Rachel, I insist, let me buy you a drink, we can take my car,” Jeff takes me by the elbow and escorts me off the elevator. I’m in such a trance I don’t resist and now we’re in his Jaguar heading to Sully’s.

“No,” I say.

“No? No what?” Jeff swings into a space in the parking deck and puts the car in park.

“No, I can’t be here—with you—I can’t do this.”

He laughs, “It’s a drink, Rachel, not a date. C’mon.” I don’t move and he lets a few seconds pass to see if my decision wavers. It doesn’t. He starts his car back up and pulls onto Main Street. Nothing more is said between us and by 10:10 AM I’m back in the parking lot at the Afterglow Journey Center. I don’t look back as Jeff pulls away; I sit on the bench outside the front door, numb and captive to words I’ve never heard. They are foreign and faint, yet strong and powerful—and I’m listening.

To be continued….

__________________

Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 9

In choices, divorce, fiction, marriage, relationships, Writing on October 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel’s court date is delayed. She stuffs Mrs. Stone’s journal in her briefcase and heads out. It’s 9:05 AM.

The first poem in Mrs. Stone’s journal was short, but drenched with pain—my pain. Betrayal and lies all wrapped up in a cloak of romance. It stung, and dredged up nasty memories of when Steve first rode into my life like a prince. How hard I fell for his deceptions!

My cell rang and pulled me from the prose.

“Rachel, your case got moved to 9:45. Where are you?”

It was my attorney. Great guy—why didn’t he ride into my life instead of Steve?

“I’m still at the office. We had a passing last night and I had to meet with the widow. I’ll be right there.”

“Okay. Steve’s not here yet.”

“Big surprise. See ya,” I said, and clicked off. I shoved my cell into my briefcase along with Mrs. Stone’s journal. The courthouse is just blocks from my office so I determined to jump right back into those poems as soon as I could.

The courthouse is crazy. Seems everyone is suing someone, but no one wants to be here. My heart rate rises at each floor on the elevator. I watch the numbers change. Four is where my marriage will be declared dead. I hope Steve isn’t here yet.

My attorney is pacing by the elevator doors as I step from them with a dozen other nervous souls. He grabs my elbow and leads me quickly to a bench. We drop and he barrels into typical, 90 mph lawyer-speak.

“Slow down Jeff, I don’t even know the meaning of half those words!” He sighs.

“Rachel, if Steve doesn’t show up, we can still go forward with the divorce. I’ll ask the judge for favor, given that you have been amicable throughout this process and I think he’ll go for it. I don’t think Steve has any more leverage to stop this again.”

I shudder. The past year-and-a-half of motions, continuances and the deposition damaged my emotions beyond anything I had experienced in my life. Why won’t he just let go of me?

“Okay. Good plan, thanks Jeff.” I pulled Mrs. Stone’s journal from my briefcase, un-wrapped the cord from around its cover and leaned back against the stark white wall.

“Where’d you get that?” Jeff asked.

“From someone at the facility. It’s poetry.”

Jeff raised his brows, “Looks valuable.” I smiled, catching his sarcasm. He knew I was not the poetry type and I detected his curiosity as to this odd distraction.

My eyes found the second poem. A lump formed in my throat as its first line: When lies are love and love is a lie …

I sensed a hunger form deep inside—I need something from this book. If you had asked me on that day what I was looking for in its pages, I couldn’t have told you. I just had this strange ache inside me; a strong force that held my wrist as I dangled over a deadly precipice. I wanted to do nothing but read that journal. I looked at my watch. It was 9:20 AM. Still no Steve.

To be continued….

________________

Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 8

In choices, divorce, fiction, judging, lessons, marriage, office, plans, relationships, stress on October 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm

A Novelette

by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Rachel walks to the elevator with Mrs. Stone’s journal in her hand. It is 8:45 AM.

I don’t remember walking to the elevator. In fact, I don’t remember anything from the moment Mrs. Stone handed me her journal until I opened it and began reading.

“Read this before you go to court,” she had said.

You must know that I am a very private person. In fact, the only reason I’m writing all of this down is because—well, you’ll figure that out soon enough. What I’m saying is, only my assistant knew of my court date. On my watch, gossip is grounds for immediate termination, so I’m quite sure Kevin wouldn’t risk losing his cushy paycheck just to indulge in a few morsels of that nonsense. So how did Mrs. Stone know I was due in court by nine?

I always maintain a professional distance from our patients and their families—most especially with the Russell’s. Her connections to our Board, her national renown as a poet and Mr. Russell’s condition all combined into a big red flag. When Mr. Stone was admitted, I held a mandatory powwow to explain that his time with us would require extreme discretion, not only with the patient’s personal information, but with the staff sharing their personal information in idle chit chat to him. Be kind, compassionate, attend to his needs and that’s all, were my instructions.

Until Angie got her panties in a bunch over Mr. Stone, all was well. Somewhere along the line she took it upon herself to play judge and jury over him and if I hadn’t addressed that when I did, we would now be facing repercussions of a most unpleasant sort. I hope she’s grateful I spared her a pink slip. Regardless, I’m confident she didn’t let spill any info on me to the Stone’s either—even if she does know about my divorce.

I put that aside and focused on the journal. I had 15 minutes to get to the courthouse so I knew I couldn’t possibly read it all before then. I gathered some work and stuffed it into my briefcase then thought I could take the journal with me.

I picked it up and turned it in my hands. It was made of leather, smooth on the outside, though worn from years of use. Inside was the rough hide, unfinished, with thick sections of ivory pages folded and sewn into the spine by some kind of heavy-duty thread. Its construction was definitely crafted by an artist and felt priceless, like it had been given to a mortal by a Greek god or goddess and held magic powers … to preserve for my eyes only, centuries later. Okay, so I watch a bit too much sci-fi.

The cover page was all blank with only Mrs. Stone’s handwriting: “This book belongs to Margaret Lynette Stone,” it read. Below her name was what looked like a proverb, but I couldn’t place it: By your patience possess your souls.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to peek. It was 8:50 AM, just one page …

To be continued….

________________

Read from the beginning…

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 7

In choices, death, divorce, fear, fiction, help, judging, love, marriage, obedience, relationships on October 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

A Novelette

 by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Mrs. Stone’s story of the late Russell Stone hit a nerve in Rachel. It is 8:30 AM.

The anger rising in me was shocking. I wanted to run like villagers do when the volcano they live by day-in-and-day out starts rumbling. Mrs. Stone could see the eruption forming on my face. Still, she calmly continued.

“People judge these unlived lives as actors, manipulators or lazy bums, having no idea that they are starving for an ounce of acceptance and love in any form. They remain children in their mind with no definition for what drives them or what was stolen from them; they just know they are different from everyone else.”

I felt punched in the stomach and filled with shame. I held her gaze so she couldn’t see that I am one of those judges; that I am only an hour away from dumping such a soul.

“But why did you marry him, knowing he could never be a real husband to you?” I asked. She took in a deep breath; a strange peace engulfed me as she exhaled, something I still can’t explain, though I’ve rolled it over and over in my mind ever since.

“I didn’t know all this when I married him. He seemed as normal as any man,” said Mrs. Stone through tears. “At first I felt deceived, but to honor my vows, I had to love him unconditionally as I am loved by my Creator; that is only fair, don’t you think?”

I shrugged, non-committed. I wasn’t a religious person, but I had to agree that if the Creator loves me unconditionally, I should give my fellow man the same courtesy. I mean, that made sense, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a moral, good, considerate person. I obey the law and all, but her take on it seemed unrealistic.

“But how could you play along with it all? It doesn’t seem fair to you,” I said, my voice now pleading, my mind oblivious to the clock.

“Over time I learned that his feigned normalcy was more than just an act—it was a desperate cry for help,” she said. “I knew that my love for Russell had to be bigger than me. It had to reach beyond my romantic dreams, beyond my rights as a woman, as a wife. I had to love him more than he could ever love me.”

I choked. Shaking my head I pushed all these super woman ideals as far away from me as I could. She had no idea that Steve and Mr. Stone were one and the same and I wasn’t about to tell her. I needed to extricate myself from the Stone’s upside-down world and focus on my court date. I glanced up at the clock. It’s 8:40 AM.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Stone. With all due respect, I have a 9AM meeting I can’t miss. Please forgive me for rushing off like this. The staff will help you with the paperwork we need you to complete before Mr. Stone’s burial. I will call you later today.”

Mrs. Stone smiled serenely and looked down at the journal in her hands. My hand was on the door handle when she called my name. I turned around.

“Please take this and read it before you go to court.”

I gave her a sideways look as I took the journal from her trembling hand. How did she know my ‘meeting’ was in court?

To be continued….

________________

Read from the beginning…

Window Shopping

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, faith, God, growth, Jesus, Scripture on October 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

iStock-windowSmallOver the past few months I’ve been reading through the Gospels in my Bible. Starting with Matthew, I’ve read a chapter a day with a deliberate desire for God to reveal His Word to me in a fresh, new way.

By the time I reached the last verse of Luke 19, it dawned on me that God’s Word was so much more relevant and alive than all the times I had read the Gospels.

When this revelation fully manifested in my slow brain, I saw clearly that I had been ‘window-shopping’ through the most significant sections of my Bible.

“Oh, that’s neat,” I would say when reading how Jesus fed 5000+ people with a boy’s lunch.

“Huh, that’s cool,” I would mutter when I’d read that Peter got out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus.

I casually passed over these phenomenal acts of God’s Son with little more than a yawn and headed back to the Psalms where I could better relate to the ‘woe is me’, ‘please change my circumstances, Lord’  and ‘save me from my enemies!’ passages.

Don’t get me wrong, the Psalms are timeless writings of precious, heart-wrenching intimate moments of doomed souls crying out to God for salvation, deliverance, hope and healing. So why breeze through the four written accounts of God’s Answer to all those ancient pleas?

I am ashamed that I have merely glanced at the Gospels’ priceless treasure. In them is the path, the door, the key, the hope, the fruition of God’s promise to Abraham and all who would believe – by faith alone.

Now, I’m tearing apart my house like a crazed, madwoman who lost a valuable coin.  I’m selling everything I have to buy a field where I found a priceless pearl.

I finally get it.  The kingdom of heaven should be pursued.  It’s not history. It’s not a shopping expedition for what fits best into our lives.

It’s real. It’s here.

It’s mine.

Hidden

In believe, Bible, choices, faith on September 17, 2009 at 7:40 am

If your Bible was taken away today, how much of it would you remember?

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As the world becomes more and more intolerant toward those who uphold the Holy Bible as their moral standard, it is not so hard to fathom that Bibles will someday be outlawed.

With prayer – and any form of spiritual expression – being banned from schools, it shouldn’t be hard to believe that one day our personal copies of the Word of God will also be removed.

So, what if you could not walk into a bookstore and choose from hundreds of Bibles published in various versions, paraphrases, translations, colors, bindings or sizes? What if you could no longer have a Bible sitting on your nightstand, on your bookshelf, in your car or purse? How much of it would you remember if you could never read it again?

When America was founded, it was the standard textbook in every school. Our ancestors learned how to read from their family Bible. But that is not the case today. Political Correctness now dictates that ‘tolerance’ of all religions is the norm, though any Christian who has confronted this edict knows well that Christianity – and its Bible – are not included.

Still can’t get your head around this? Watch. Pay attention. It’s coming. Jesus warned his disciples as recorded in Matthew 24, that we will know when we see the things happening of which he warned us, like we know when the seasons are about to change.

So, dust off your Bible, crack it open and read. Know what God says about your life, your world, your end. Believe, be saved, get ready.

Soon, the only Bible you’ll have is what you hid in your heart and mind.

Lord, I have hidden Your Word in my heart so I won’t sin against You  (Psalm 119:11).  Help me be diligent in reading my Bible, which You so graciously wrote and preserved all through the centuries so I could touch it with my own hands, see it with my own eyes and believe it with my own heart. May You find me still believing when You return.

F Words

In believe, choices, faith, fear, help, Jesus, love, power on September 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

No other letter in the English Alphabet begin words that are so extremely polarizing than “F.”

To be sure, two of those words are embattled to the bitter end of life itself: Fear and Faith.

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More acutely for students is the dreaded grade: F. No other letter can mark a child so deeply.  To receive one means we FAILED.

Such a connection to ‘F’ can drive us down untold paths of perpetual failure, locking us into a prison cell with all sorts of nasty inmates: self deprecation, disconnection, stigma, depression, discouragement, disenfranchisement, etc.

Failure has such potential to kill a human soul that those who are wise to its power can weaken it with another ‘F’ word: Funny!  Truly, laughing at our failures is a God-given weapon to combat this deadly word.

(BTW: the ‘FAIL BLOG’ has the corner on this right now, so if this post is too depressing, go there, laugh your head off, then come back and read the rest of my post!)

This battle has armies on both sides:

Fear – Faith

Fault – Forgiven

Fierce – Funny

Famine – Food

Filth – Finery

Forsaken – Friend

By no means is that an exhaustive list, but you get the point, ‘F Words’ are at war. I won’t even list the most infamous F word since it probably popped in your head when you read my title. So dirty is that particular word, that common reference to it is the ‘F-Bomb.’ How ironic, given the devastation a bomb has in today’s society, both physically and metaphorically.

This war, as I mentioned above, has two captains: Fear and Faith. And, based on my studies of Holy Scripture and years of experience in both of these camps, I have concluded that the front lines of life are fought on the battlefield of the mind by these two foes. But by no means are they an end in themselves.  These captains war for two kings: Love and Hate.

The Bible teaches that Faith and Fear, to a human being, are the means by which we choose Love or Hate.  To live in fear is to vote for hate. To live by faith, is a choice for love.

Since these foes are not tangible on earth, like a gun or a kiss, they are often missed altogether. We search all our lives for answers to life’s questions and dilemmas, and yet, even when such a quest leads us straight to God’s Word our minds still can’t get our head around faith, how it ‘works’ (sorry about the puns, they just happen when I write).

The king of Hate works hard to disguise the simplicity of faith. By no means does he ever want you to get behind the power of faith.  If you do, you would be walking on oceans to feed nations with a loaf of bread. You’d be healing everything you touched and worse, casting him out everywhere you go!

No, wielding the sword of Faith is no easy task. Neither is Fear easy to flush out. So much of our lives are subject to its trickery we rarely view it as an enemy!

But I digress.

Why is Fear vs. Faith my topic today?

Early this morning my husband jostled me from a troubling dream. In it I was surrounded by demons. It was just me and one other person and I was screaming at the top of my lungs at them to ‘leave in the name of Jesus!’ but it wasn’t working. When I ‘came to’ I begged my husband to lay his hand on my mind and to pray God’s peace over me as I was filled with fear.

Only by knowing and understanding the power of faith was I able to know how to defeat the assault of fear in that nightmare.  The Truth set me free from its grip.

Do you want power over fear?

Know your enemy. Dig deep into a Bible as soon as possible. Find out who, what, when, where and why Fear is your enemy.  ‘be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ (1 Peter 5:8)

Know your weapon. As a soldier learns to use and respect his weapon before he goes to war, so must we learn how faith works and how to use it against our enemy. Knowledge will dismantle most of Fear’s power, but you must understand that nothing in you has power over fear.  No method, mantra or effort on your part – outside of a choice to walk by faith – will defeat fear.

Get serious. Make no mistake: if Jesus is your Savior, then Fear has power ‘over’ you and Faith has power ‘in’ you.  To allow both, and it is your choice, is sin.  ‘…for whatever is not from faith is sin.’ (Romans 14:23b) You can’t have it both ways.

Choose your F Word: Fear or Faith.

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How do you get more faith?  Read your Bible every day and get grounded in a church that teaches the Word of God without apology.  ‘…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ (Romans 10:17)