The Fear That Grips You

Fear grips our souls like none other. It keeps us bound to things we would never want to acknowledge — sickness, undesirable relationships, habits, thought patterns, and a host of other undesirables.

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Fear keeps you pinned down to a lie. A lie that says you are good for nothing, you don’t have a future, and that whatever you try will be hopeless. But Jesus said that you’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Once fear has a grip on you and you continue on that track, it ultimately will lead you to the greatest of all fears, the fear of death. Once the fear of death has a grip on you, it will gradually begin to take control of various aspects of your life. ultimately it will get a hold of your health.

The fear of death will make you its slave. For many, it becomes a lifelong bondage of fear. But the Bible says that through His death, Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death, the Devil.

So now, the Devil has been “destroyed” and his power has been stripped off by Jesus. Now, through the fear of death, the Devil continues to put people into lifelong slavery and bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The fear that grips your heart is much beyond a simple fear that seems to have lots of effect on you. It is a diabolical ploy to hold you in lifelong bondage through nothing but fear. That is the only true power Satan has — the power gained through fear of death — which is a complete lie.

The truth is, Jesus has already won the victory — you are on the winning side.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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The World You Leave Behind

The future of the world is quite uncertain. For many, this is a matter of serious concern. The increasing threat of terrorism puts fear into the hearts of those who live in peaceful situations. Global warming, school shootings, human trafficking, slavery, natural calamities and a host of other factors that are beyond our control cause confusion in our hearts.

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For some, they are completely oblivious to all that goes on throughout the world. They simply look away and continue with their daily tasks.

What kind of a world are we leaving behind for the next generation? Many of us may not be around to witness the outcome of all these dangerous situations and others that are brewing throughout the world. This could be a way of “escape” or a way to ignore reality. But we must not ignore this moral responsibility placed on us as part of this current generation. What will we do? How will we take responsible action to benefit the generations that follow?

For generations, people have attempted to bring correction and order in this world. The quest and attempt to change things must continue. That is part of our moral responsibility. But at the same time, we acknowledge the reality that these things are ongoing attempts, but not the ultimate solution.

The Bible says that Jesus sustains the universe with His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus can sustain the universe with His word because He is the one through whom God created the universe (John 1:3). His word spoke everything into existence, and his powerful word will continue to sustain everything.

The world you leave behind is a serious concern for many. And rightly so. We need to be responsible citizens of the planet and be concerned about the world we leave behind for our children.

But ultimately, it is God who created this world, and He will sustain it for future generations.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Calculated Losses

Do you describe your life as a life of losses? You look back and see a trail of losses. The losses may have occurred in relationships, money, honour, and a host of other factors. These losses are a reality of your past, and it seems to grip your present just as much as it had a hold on your past.

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More than twenty years ago I worked for a company that put much effort into keeping their losses (shrinkage) down way below 2%. Each year, as the company went through its annual inventory, they meticulously combed through every piece of item in the store. But they knew that through theft, breakage, and paperwork errors, they would surely incur losses.

Throughout the year they worked hard to keep the losses down, but they knew they had to factor in such losses. For them, it was part of doing business.

I’ve realized now that losses in life must be factored in to my life’s “account” too. I’ve got to learn to accept losses as a part of living this life. As long as we don’t’ accept this reality, we will continue to live in the past. We get a new calendar each year, but our lives remain in the former years. We leave our hearts behind somewhere in the past.

Once we accept losses as a part of this life, we can begin to move forward in life. The possibilities become endless. Otherwise our losses weigh us down and we won’t be able to move forward with life.

Calculate the losses, set them aside, and let’s move forward.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Always Prefer Outdated Medicines

As I cleaned out the night table next to the bed, I found the medicine that the doctor had prescribed for me to use when the condition flares up occasionally. He had prescribed some extra for me to store up. The package was dusty, and torn. When I looked carefully, I realized it had expired more than a year ago.

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That’s when I remembered my anxious thoughts several years ago when the doctors said this condition will gradually get worse. They said that I could maintain a fairly normal life by being careful to take care of myself.

As these thoughts came up in my mind, I was holding several outdated medicines, remembering how regularly I was dependent on those. I made sure to purchase extra so that I’ll never be without them.

Now I was elated to realize that I must have purchased them over two years ago. Now, for more than two years, I’ve enjoyed God’s healing and restoration. I am still learning to be dependent on Him more than ever.

While I am grateful for the healing, I also remember the years I experienced the struggle. As there was no hope for a normal future for me, I had been living on a very short deadline of just a few years. Only a few years were left for me to live a normal life. Somehow, I was the recipient of God’s mercy as I received the healing.

But I realize there are those who never experience the healing here in this life. For them, it may be the experience of being permanently broken (Click the link to view the post). Their healing may only occur in the next life with Jesus in eternity.

Only because I am a recipient of God’s mercy I’ve been healed. Thus I get to write about outdated medicines!

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

A Wealthy Poor Man and His Expense Account

How generous is your expense account? How large do want it to be? It doesn’t come out of your account any way. It bypasses your pocket.

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Paul was encouraging Philemon to take back his runaway slave, Onesimus. Through Paul, Onesimus had accepted Christ and had become Paul’s “son” and “brother” in Christ.

Obviously Paul understood that Onesimus has wronged his master in numerous ways. Now paul says: “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to my account” (Philemon 18).

What account? Paul was a man who owned very little on this earth. His possessions were just a change of clothes and a few books. But his “expense account” was huge.

Over the years, Paul invested himself by way of the gospel, into the lives of many people. Although Paul owned no possessions in this world, the investments he made into the lives of people had paid great dividends.

Wherever Paul traveled, he invested himself into the lives of others. He had no worries about his future or financial stability because he left a trail of highly valuable investments.

Paul said, “…I, Paul, will pay you back. I should not have to remind you, of course, that you owe your very self to me” (Philemon 19). Such life changing impact was the investment Paul made into the lives of people.

Possibly one of the greatest investments we can make are investments into people’s lives.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Speak No Evil and Be Kind

What about those people who are clearly evil doers? Some are regularly involved in activities that are divisive and dangerous, but continue in public like a nice, wonderful person.

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Some of the instructions in the Bible are quite difficult to understand, and even more difficult to follow. Paul instructs Timothy to teach people “to speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2 ESV).

How should we understand this instruction? Does it suggest that we are to remain silent about all the evil that goes on around us? Surely someone needs to point out the things that need to change. But we can avoid direct personal attacks. Even if they are wrong, we can take a different approach.

Those who do wrong, those who do evil, clearly know that they are doing wrong. When we tell them, we are only informing them of something they already know. Normally, this just drives people away from us and does nothing to solve the problem.  When we make a public statement about that person and their misdeeds, we again are simply notifying people what they already know. Again, it will drive that person and many others away from us. Thus we diminish the opportunity we have to influence them.

Paul qualifies his statement by saying: “Always show a gentle attitude toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient and wrong” (Titus 3:2b-3a). The reason for gentleness is that we were once just like these evildoers.

It was the “kindness and love of God our Savior” that saved us and transformed our lives. Many commonly think such an attitude will only allow for more of their evil deeds.

But God’s approach to transform people is different from ours. So, it’s time to think differently, behave differently, and speak differently.

Speak no evil, and be kind.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

 

When Death Came Too Soon

Here was another person who died before being transformed by the power of Jesus. It was a deeply saddening news for me. I had given much time, effort, and energy to connect with this person in hopes that he would give his heart to Jesus and be transformed by God’s power.

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I had similar thoughts and experiences as I related with another person who also died never connecting with Jesus. I wrote about him earlier in a blog called: When Life Ends Before Mercy Ends.

Both of these men turned to alcohol as their solace. But I don’t think alcohol was the real problem. The real problem was that they couldn’t turn their brokenness over to God. There was something in their hearts that prevented them and held them back.

They both felt their situation in life was worse than anyone else. They clearly felt that no one could understand them. Although they were told about Jesus, they just could not give their lives to Him. Their hearts would not open up.

This man was in business and he experienced some success at various times. But he had trouble keeping his commitments. He often got into debts that he could not return. As a result, he left lots of broken relationships.

I’m not sure what I could have done differently in order to bring such people to Jesus. I know that ultimately they need to make a decision on their own. But once they do, I am confident in Jesus that He will change them inside and out.

So now I pray for all who have not accepted the invitation of Jesus. He invites those who are weary and burdened to come to Him. He will give them “rest” for their souls.

Your Turn

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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Why You Need to be a Transparent Leader

I was an 18 year old student in college when I received the instruction that leaders should not be too open with the people they lead. We were instructed to keep a safe, professional distance.

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From the time I heard these words, I struggled with that concept. I wanted to believe and accept this concept since it came from my teacher, but I was not certain.

The Bible portrays maturity and unity as the benefits of a transparent attitude (Eph 4:15). As people develop and grow, they are to be guided by love to live lives that are transparent.

Transparency Earns Respect

Transparent leaders are by nature people of integrity. People want to follow leaders who have integrity as their focal character. Such attitudes will earn genuine respect from people.

Transparency Allows for Flexibility

As a transparent person, you have the freedom to be who you are. This allows you much more flexibility. Otherwise, you’ll have to try to live up to expectations that are not a part of reality.

Once you have the freedom to be flexible, your options are unlimited. You can try new things and move into new and uncomfortable situations. When you begin to push your limits, you grow and expand much beyond what you can imagine.

Transparency Requires Accountability

There is no other option for a transparent person than to be accountable. A person who is not transparent does not need to be accountable. Such a person can hide behind the guise of the image created for the public.

Transparency Brings Unity

When leaders take on the character of transparency, they contribute greatly to the unity of the group. People begin to develop genuine relationships. Those genuine relationships lead to unity that is deeper than just organizational unity.

Transparency Breeds Transparency

As any good trait, this one will also spread to others. Being transparent will influence others to be transparent, and those who refuse to be transparent will pull away.

Transparency Glorifies God

Finally, transparent leaders can bring glory to God. Their transparency requires them to be truly focused on God who is the source of all that we have and are.

When the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus told them that if they saw Jesus, they have seen the father. Nothing to hide, nothing more to reveal. Jesus revealed the Father to us in himself.

In a similar way, we reveal God to those around us as we are genuine and transparent with others.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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What To Do With Those Crazy Young People

I grew up hearing — and continue to hear people complaining about young people. The common lament is that this next generation is going the wrong direction. They simply live as they please. They have no respect for others, especially for elders. The complaint list seems endless.

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Paul tells Titus to urge young people to be self-controlled (Titus 2:6). We don’t see much complaint about the younger generation. He just gives them direction. He focuses them to a lofty goal: A self-controlled life.

Among adults, I observe two common responses to the younger generation. One is the response I mentioned earlier, with constant complaining about the negatives of young people. The other response is to simply accept things as they are. These people say that young people will always be as they are — irresponsible, self-centered, pleasure-seeking, etc. They feel there is no sense trying to correct them, as “they won’t change anyway.”

I like Paul’s approach: “urge them to be self-controlled.” There is no scolding, complaining, rebuking, cursing, or any of the common negative responses. He simply gives a firm “push” urging them in the proper direction.

I wonder what the results would be if we focus on training young people to be self-controlled. Once they learn self-control, they will be headed in the right direction.

They need to hear the voices of adults who believe in them. They need to hear from people who are convinced that young people can and will move in the right direction.

Will you be that voice? The voice that respects them enough to urge them towards a self-controlled life.

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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This Easter Will Be Better

Annual celebrations can be dull, boring, and redundant. So each year, we find ways to make the celebration better, more colorful, lively, and hopefully even more meaningful.

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The awesome reality of Easter is that Jesus continues His special work for us after he resurrected from death. As the perfect High Priest, Jesus continues to represent us to the Father. The uniqueness of His work for us is described in Hebrews 7:15-28.

The High Priests before Jesus would pass on their role to another before they died, but Jesus continues to live forever. His work as our mediator never gets passed on to another. He always continues as our representative before the Father.

So, from generation to generation, Jesus continues to be our mediator. He was there for those who lived before us. He was their mediator, sustainer, and savior. We have heard their stories — how Jesus was faithful to them in their greatest struggles. Now He does the same for us.

Easter is a time for us to celebrate this reality and pass on that confidence to our children. Jesus was faithful to our ancestors. He continues to be faithful to us. And now, we call our children forward and pass on this wonderful reality to them. Jesus will be their mediator, savior, sustainer and guide.

So this Easter will be better as we get to pass on our faith in Jesus to yet another generation!

Your Turn

Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?

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* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.

** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.

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