Addressing Your ‘What if’ Fear – Todd Stocker.com


Baltimore Abandoned House_2_905Every neighborhood has ‘that house’. You know the one.  The dwellers seem to be a bit strange and the property is unkempt.  There may be obvious maintenance needs with city citations piling up inside their ‘overstuffed with junk-mail’ mailbox.  The rest of the neighbors talk and shake their heads and the kids make up ghost stories on Halloween about dead bodies in the basement. 

I lived by such a house in North Dakota.  This one was tenant-less.  Shutters hung tilted and one could get lost in the weeds and shrubs that ran wild like a bad hair day.  In my mind, I see bats flying in and out of the windows night and day, although that most likely wasn’t the case. 

My neighborhood friends and I ignored the house — frankly, because there was so much more to do in the park across from my home.  But on the occasions when we would walk down the street toward the local Dolly Madison bakery, we would walk on the opposite side of the street from the house.  None of us mentioned why, even though — inside — we knew. 

FEAR …

Kid fear is different from adult fear.  Kid fear makes up monsters and beings and little gremlins that chase you down a dark street. 

Adult fear is much worse.  It drives us, stops us, defeats us and demolishes us.  It weeds its way into the emotional framework of our dreams and tells us that we are not good enough, strong enough or worthy enough.  It dusts off the file of past failures and asks us to consider the ‘what ifs’ of life.  What if something horrible will happen? What if I get hurt?  What if I try that relationship again and it fails?  What if…?

Life is full of these.  You may be feeling the ‘what if fear’ right now.  And it is at the intersection of your fear and longing for fullness that Jesus steps in. 

Throughout the Bible and specifically in the Gospels, Jesus meets you in the ‘what if fear’.  From the moment of his birth, humanity joined angels in declaring that fear is squelched by hope and doubt is relieved by love.  John 14 recalls Jesus meeting you in your trial and trouble and struggle as he tells you “In this world, you’re going to bounce along the bottom and hit the walls of hardship and fear.  Yet I have overcome all of the consequences of your past failures and the guilt of your sin.  I have entered into your story with a forever love and presence that gives you, shows you and tells you that it’s going to be okay”  (my paraphrase).

It is, you know.  Your ‘what if fear’ will be okay.  You are loved.  You are forgiven and there is no fear in Jesus. 

(study Romans 8:35-39)

Click here for a post on Halloween.

Peace!

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008: 3 Ways To Overcome Fear – Podcast – Todd Stocker.com

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Show Notes: (Audio attached at the end of the post)

Listener Question: “Todd, sometimes, I seemed to be paralyzed by fear.  I have things in life that I want to do but I’m always thinking that it might not work out or I’m afraid to even take a first step.  I want to believe that I can live my life fear-free.  is that even possible?” – Gavin.

 The quick answer to that is no.  It’s not possible not to be afraid.  Being afraid is natural, human response that we use for safety.  If I wasn’t afraid of driving my car 120mph, the odds of me crashing increase. If I wasn’t afraid of being on the wrong side of town late at night, I’m inviting trouble and danger.

So where does Fear come from?  First, it comes from the unknown.  If you’ve never been to Europe, there is an element of fear as you step off the plane and try to execute your plan for a vacation.  If you can’t see in the dark, you are fearful of what might be out there.

It also comes from past experiences.  If you’ve spoken in front of a large crowd and you didn’t think it went well, you are less likely to do it again because of the fear of failure.  The interesting thing is that experiences are basically neutral.  We assign meaning to them which we deem as negative or positive.  Let me say that again.  Most events that happen in your life are pretty much neutral.  But based on your experiences, based on what we’ve been told, based on other factors, we bring meaning to the experience.  If you place a negative experience on the event, you’re much more likely to be afraid of doing it again.  (But that’s another conversation for another day.)

How do you combat fear?  Let me give you 3 ways.

  1. Know that God is with you always (Matthew 28:20)
  2. Learn the phrase “Make Reality Your Friend,” from Peaks and Valleys.
  3. Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

Another aspect of fear that you need to remember is this.  You can never be completely without fear in new or strange environments.  So how do you move forward?  “Do it with fear.”  This means, recognize that you are afraid but move forward anyway.

 Links:

A Perspective On Life’s Storms – Laura Dekker

maidentripI recently watched a documentary called “Maidentrip” in which 14 year-old Laura Dekker spent 18 months sailing around the world.  Here’s the kicker.  She did it alone.  

She comes from a family that basically lives on the water so her skills and abilities were heartily grounded.  Yet, to take on a trip like this would make even the most seasoned sailer quiver.  

A crew flew to her destinations of port and captured her on-land film footage.   However, the on-the-water footage was taken by Laura herself.  Much like a vlog (a video log), she recorded her thoughts, feelings and experiences as her tiny boat cut across the world’s oceans. 

One of the most impactful scenes for me was when she hit a storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Filmed by her from inside the boat, the waves, wind and rain hammered the vessel.  I was expecting her comments to be ones of fear.  Yet her commentary was, “I love seeing the wave splash across the bow.  The spray is so beautiful and bobbing around makes this all fun.”  

My mouth dropped open. Here she was in a near life threatening situation and she calls if fun.

The word is perspective.  Laura knew that she could rely on her experience and equipment to make it through the storm.  She knew that even in the worst cast scenario, help was only a short distance away.  This knowledge released her fear, gave her perspective and allowed for even a bit of fun.

I know that many of you reading this feel like you are in a tiny boat on a big ocean being battered by an even greater storm.  I know many of you wrestle with the sails of doubt and the ropes of fear.  What would happen if you knew that our God is right there with you?  How would the knowledge of him being an ever present help in times of trouble change your perspective?  Yes, storms need tending to.  They need managing and navigation.  Yet, is there a possibility that the next wave could be the most beautiful one you’ve seen? 

Sail on.  Stay The Course.

Peace!

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Why Everyone Should See The New Cinderella Movie

Cinderella.001I took my 18-year-old daughter to see Disney’s latest rendition of the classic story, “Cinderella.”  Expecting the theater to be filled with little children and moms, I was surprised to see that most of the audience were adults, men and women alike.  There is a reason for that.  The movie is epic.  The piece is beautiful.  The messages are life changing. Yes, go see it if you haven’t!

Here is why you should see this movie and one of the reasons I’m in love with this latest adaptation.  There is a key phrase that Cinderella’s mother taught her as Cinderella grew up.  The phrase is “Have Courage — Always Be Kind.” [Tweet that.]

Courage is simply the ability to move forward even while facing obstacles and fear.  Most of us give up as a wall of struggle stands between our opportunities and goals.  Most of us are paralyzed when fear grips us and we don’t live the life of our dreams because of it. 

Kindness is the basic ability to respect and love others as ourselves and to treat them as highly valued creations of God.  Simple kindness dressed in the garment of a positive attitude is generally lost with many people.  We don’t see the raw heart of gentleness often enough. The onscreen Cinderella, however, is a perfect example.  

What would it look like if our society lived a life of Courage and Kindness? What if we lived as God would have us live with Courage and Kindness rather than Fear and Pettiness? 

Today, remind yourself that in the face of fear, have Courage.  In a moment of relational stress, be Kind. 

Peace!

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Don’t Let Fear Box You In

Why do we put God in a box?


box of fearI do it.  You do it.  I think every human being who knows there’s a God, does it.  We try to figure him out.  We try to wrap our finite human understanding around an infinite God. 

I preached on Mark 9 yesterday when Jesus took his friends up a mountain where he was — here comes a churchy word — transfigured.  Basically, this word means to change into something that far more beautiful or spiritual than its original form.  Simply put, Jesus gave his friends a glimpse of who he really was.  (read it here).

Given that visual, Peter said something that, to me, is idiotic but understandable.  “Let’s build shelters for us to stay in?”  So here you have Jesus showing his godly glory and Peter thinks he needs shelter. 

Out of fear, Peter reacted in a human way. Fear causes us to put things in boxes [Tweet that].  Fear makes us want to control.  Fear requires that self-focus override reason.

It’s easy to take the Jesus who loves children.  It’s easy to accept the Jesus who heals the poor and is kind to strangers.  What about the Jesus who brings a sword, whose message breaks up families and who will come to judge all of humanity?  As Christ-followers, we either take all of him or none of him.  Maybe that is why Peter was so afraid.  He realized who Jesus was and became afraid of the life-changing implications.  

When Jesus is moving your life out of its comfort zone, fear appears.  Don’t trust that emotion.  Tell yourself to trust in Jesus.  Tell Jesus you trust in him.  Resist the urge to put him in a box and all will be well, my friends.  All will be well.

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Peace!

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Good Men Are Sometimes Afraid

“Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:19, 20 NLT)

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Good men are sometimes afraid.  Think about Joseph.  A hard-working man whose integrity was well known.  He falls in love with a young girl and pledges to marry her.  In that culture, the pledge was binding.  Suddenly, the love of his life shares the news of an unplanned pregnancy.  Joseph knew that scorn and ridicule would await him if he went through with his plan to marry Mary.  But the Spirit told him not to be afraid because even though on the outside, things look bleak, on the inside often the Holy Spirit is at work.

This reminds me to trust that the Holy Spirit of God is at work behind the scenes, even though it can be scary.   Move forward. Don’t stop.  See what God can do.

Lord, as I look at aspects of my life, fear paralyzes me.  Help me to be a good man an give me the confidence to move forward with fear.

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(This post was written using the S.O.A.P. method.  It is the method I use for my morning quiet time.  Want to know what it is?  Click Here).

Peace!

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Do It WITH Fear

fear1I heard a story of a firefighter who climbed up a five story ladder to rescue a woman hanging out a flame engulfed apartment building.  As smoke billowed from the window, the woman screamed and coughed and begged for the firefighter to hurry.  The ladder lurched into place and the firefighter met her on the sill.

“It’s okay!” he said.  “Just listen to what I want you to do.  I need you to climb out of the window and onto the ladder and we’ll both go down together.”

The woman’s eyes went wide.  She looked at the firefighter, looked down and the five story drop,  looked back at him and said, “I can’t do it!  I’m afraid of heights!”

“It’s okay.  I’ve got you,” he said.
“No,” she yelled, “you don’t understand.  I get sick even walking up stairs.  I’m not coming with you because I’m too afraid.”

The firefighter thought for a moment and said, “Do it with fear!”
They both made it down together.

I love that line, “Do it with fear!”  Too often, we wait to have that conversation or venture out into something new because we are waiting for all fear to disappear.  What if fear is a good thing?  What if the adage “overcome your fear” is an impossible statement keeping us from doing something with fear.

That kind of healthy fear keeps us alert as we open a business.  That kind of healthy fear keeps us humble as we encourage someone with our faith in God.

Here are three ways to more forward with fear.

  1. Realize that fear, at some level, is part of our human experience.
  2. Visualize fear as a traveling companion, there to give advice but NOT to hold you back.
  3. Know that God’s perfect love casts out the fear of wondering if He loves you.

Whatever fear is holding you back, do it with fear.

Peace!

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WORRIED? TRY THIS …

I woke up this morning with a churning in my gut.  My first thought was “I’m not ready to speak tomorrow morning!”  I’d been mulling over my talk for the past few weeks but didn’t give it focused thought.  Worry grabbed me.  It ripped into my world like a dog ripping into meat (which is the original meaning of the word “worry”).

There are many emotions that keep us from achieving all that we’d like.  Fear is the biggie but Worry comes a close second.  Those feelings of anxiousness, those thoughts of what could and might be, that irrational look into tomorrow and seeing only stress and trouble – those are the hallmarks of Worry.  W. R Inge said,

“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”

So how do we curb those feelings about tomorrow that threaten to rob us of the joys of of today?  How do we keep moving forward when worry wants us to stay where we are?  The Bible gives us the formula in Philippians 4:6-7.

First, redirect the focus of your thoughts from what could be to someone who is.  Choose to give your anxiousness to God.  Since worry is something that is unseen – except for the results of it – redirect your energies to someone who dwells in the unseen and let Him handle it.

Second, say Thank You to Him for handling your troubles in advance.  The prayer I prayed this morning was, “Lord thanks for helping me survive public speaking in the past.  There’s no reason why I can’t trust You to help me with it tomorrow.  So thank you for taking my worry.”

THE TWO-FOLD RESULT:  I felt – and you will too – a sense that it’s going to be ok.  I’m going to survive.  I’ll be fine.  Secondly, since the pressure was off and I had peace, I felt free to dive into my work and preparation.  The line that came to me was

“Peace is the Oil in the engine of Momentum.”  

Worry is a natural feeling but what counts is what you do with that feeling.

Question:  What do you worry about?  Leave a comment above…

(PS… Remember!  School is coming up!  Be in prayer for your child.  CLICK HERE…)

Peace!