You are Secure
I assumed I would be writing this letter after returning from China and while on the road ministering to several groups in Texas and military veterans in Florida. Needless to say… the world has changed!
The coronavirus has spread exponentially and mysteriously across the globe. The President has invoked war-time powers and the death toll mounts. In San Jose, Theresa and I have been under order to shelter in place except for essential activities. We are fine, but half of all infected people in California live in our county. Life has literally stopped here!
Each day there is new information for us to consider, as most of the news media feeds our national anxiety. The response of FEAR and PANIC by most of the population will likely not change any time soon.
As I was praying for my brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world, I began to ponder a very fundamental question: “what does it look like for Christians to live like Christians every day, in every way in the midst of a pandemic and lethal virus?”
How are we as followers of Christ to respond? How do we live, relate, and trust God in the face of physical harm, death and economic uncertainty?
Although I believe we need to take every precaution given us to protect ourselves by the CDC and medical experts; I do not believe living in FEAR is an option. And that’s what I want to share with you in this update.
In our humanness FEAR is the natural response, but the Scriptures command us to “stop being afraid” in view of our relationship with our ever-present, loving, all-powerful, all- knowing, sovereign God. No command in scripture is repeated as often or as forcefully to so great a variety of people as the command to “FEAR Not!”
But how does that work? How do we overcome our human tendency to project that something terrible will happen to us or someone that we love? How do we quiet our emotions when uncertainties multiply, travel is limited, quarantines are exercised, and economic indicators begin to tilt?
1. Where’s My Focus?
When the disciples were caught in the storm and Jesus was asleep in the boat, these professional fishermen FEARED for their life and cried out in desperation, “don’t you care that we perish?” Awakened, Jesus spoke, calmed the storm, and asked the disciples, “why are you so AFRAID, how is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)
As long as our focus is on the waves and the wind, we will be filled with FEAR. We see the same exact thing happened to Peter when he walked on the water. When his focus is on Jesus, all is well; when he looks to the waves, he begins to sink. Jesus response, “oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Apparently, Jesus actually expects us to trust Him when the wind and waves of adversity come into our lives. He’s made a promise to “be with us” no matter what forever and ever. (Matthew 28:20)
We can declare with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1-2)
Application: Stay informed, but refuse to watch too much of the news. Negative and dramatic news is what makes for ratings. Planting all the possibilities of disaster in your mind is a perfect prescription to feed your fear.
2. Where’s My FUTURE?
Fear, panic and anxiety are rooted in “what might happen in the future?” The list includes: physical harm, death, financial loss, global recession, chaos, uncertainty, instability, etc. When our minds begin to focus on all the negative possibilities of the future… FEAR will be right around the corner.
Jesus’ final night on earth provides us with His most profound teaching about how to face the future. In John chapter 14, Jesus reassures the disciples that regardless of what He is about to face (death), and what they will soon face (persecution, exclusion, uncertainty, and death in some cases) that they need not be AFRAID.
He later promised that they would live in a world of tribulation, difficulty, and persecution but that His peace given to them by faith in their heart would overcome the world. (John 16:33)
We say we believe these verses, but in America they’re much more intellectual content than actual convictions. My time in China and the Middle East has allowed me to rub shoulders with fellow brothers and sisters who base their entire life and peace on the truth of Jesus’ words. They’ve had many friends killed because of their faith, and they are ready and willing to die because they KNOW their future is certain and secure with Jesus.
I don’t mean this tritely, but if the worst thing that can happen to us with this virus is that we die and are immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus, then we can more than live without FEAR—we can model a calm and a confidence in the midst of this virus that glorifies our Father in heaven.
In fact, Church history would tell us that pandemic disease in the first 3 centuries provided a unique and sacrificial opportunity for followers of Christ. Rodney Stark in his book The Triumph of Christianity attributes the exponential growth of the Early Church to their response to 3 specific pandemics.
While the rich and powerful fled to the mountains to avoid the disease, it was Christians who remained in the cities nursing people back to health, often at the cost of their own lives. They were known by their love and the results were staggering. It is estimated that 33 million of the 60 million people in the Roman Empire were followers of Jesus by 313 AD.
Few of us will likely be called into the front lines to provide medical care for the sick; but we have a great opportunity to LIVE FEARLESSLY and calmly in this time of chaos and uncertainty.
Because we don’t fear death, we can be a part of the solution rather than add to the confusion. When fear strikes your heart, ask those two pivotal questions and answer them directly from God‘s Word:
- Where is my FOCUS?
- Where is my FUTURE?
In the audio of this Coffee Break, I further develop these 2 critical elements and discuss a third that I’ve found super encouraging when I’m tempted to fall captive to FEAR. In addition, I’ve added a message from my new book to give you practical help in finding your real SECURITY in Christ.
Christians living like Christians change the world. We do it every day, in every way, and everywhere in small and big ways to the glory of God and for the good of all mankind.
So let your light of fearless confidence shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
And thank you once again for your faithful prayers and generous financial support that enables us to help Christians live like Christians across America and around the globe.
Let’s keep pressing ahead,,
CEO & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
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