Posts Tagged ‘fear’


Tim Keller on Fear and Anxiety

October 11, 2012

What is the difference between “fear” and “anxiety”?

Tim Keller talks about both kinds of fear – fear of an immediate threat, and persistent anxiety – in his talk Praying our Fears on Psalm 3. Here’s what he taught about fear.

There are 2 steps into fear.

1. Fear: a healthy response to danger, which drives us to fight or flight, and then is gone.

2. Anxiety: a lingering, generalised, undefined sense of fear which paralyses us.

If fear is a thunderstorm, anxiety is a constant, cold drizzle: the first produces green growth, the second mildew. Fear can be good for us – it gets us out of danger! – but anxiety makes us agitated, nervous and upset. Constant anxiety can permanently turn on our autonomic nervous system, which is only meant to respond to crises, and so lead to all kinds of health issues.

What causes this second, debilitating kind of fear is not a threat to life or safety, but a threat to our identity: when something that makes us feel in control is threatened or taken away. In Psalm 3 David faces both kinds of fear: the physical threat from Absalom’s armies, and the threat to his identity as the beloved, honoured, upright king of his people.

But how do we escape from this second, debilitating kind of fear?

There are 4 steps out of fear.

1. Follow God into Danger

David describes God as a “shield around me” (Ps 3:1): a full-body shield which curves around the body, meant not for hand-to-hand combat but for following your commander into situations of extreme danger. If you turn and run, the shield won’t protect you. It’s only useful when you’re heading into danger. Obedience takes us not away from fear, but through and beyond our fear.

2. Relocate your glory.

David says, literally, “but you are my glory” (Ps 3:3). He says “but…” because something else has become his glory: he has built his emotional and psychological identity on something other than God. When we put our worth and security in something finite, out there in time and space, we are always vulnerable. So we need to relocate our glory: not in our talents or our role, or others’ opinion of us, but in God’s approval.

3. See the substitute.

But how do we know we have God’s approval? David says that God hears him because of his “holy hill”, the temple (Ps 3:4), the symbol of our Saviour Jesus. Our significance doesn’t come from what we have achieved or what we have, but from Jesus, the one who was cut off from God so we don’t have to be.

4. Remember the people.

The opposite of fear is not an absence of fear, but love (1 Jn 4:18 cf Ps 3:8). Fear is self-centred, love is other-centred. You can’t deal with fear by yourself: you have to get your mind off yourself by serving others in love.

So here’s the solution to fear:

• go forward in obedience, whatever the cost

• seek my identity in God, instead of the thing I’m scared to lose

• look to the cross, where my significance comes from

• forget myself in love for others.


Worried About Witnessing? Don’t be….

August 29, 2012

A member of your church tells you that he really wants to share his faith, but is afraid to do so. How would you respond to him?

I would first say that he should be very encouraged and thankful that he has a real desire to share his faith. A real mark of a believer, someone who has been born again by the “living” and abiding word of God is and should be a desire to proclaim the excellencies of “Him who called us out of darkness and into light.”(I Pet. 2:9) Indeed it is for this reason we have been called, to be a witness to all the nations. (Matt 28:19) I would then say that I understand the fear that comes with that calling, it is a natural foe that we all must face but one that we have been empowered to defeat to the glory of God. So we would then explore some possible causes and solutions to this fear.

As to the possible sources, it is important to examine the following: What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of not knowing enough scripture? Are you afraid of potentially doing more harm than good? Are you afraid of being rejected? Any one of these is natural and can be addressed. If ignorance of scripture is your concern then what can we do to improve your knowledge of scripture, memorization, use of a tract? It is very important that we are sure of the basics of the gospel; we need not all be expert theologians, but we can all memorize some scripture. As to the fear of doing more harm than good; it is important to remember that we can not place them in any more harm than they are in. Each and every person has “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23) and “the wages of those sins,” apart from God’s grace, “is death.” (Rom6:23) I believe that God will accept our honest effort in good faith since none of us are perfect, but He came that all “should have life and have it abundantly.”(John 10:10) As for rejection, we must understand that even Christ faced rejection, and each and every one of us rejected him until He gave us the gift of faith and grace unto salvation. He “came unto His own and His own received Him not.”(John 1:11)

If a particular fear can be pinpointed then we hopefully can move to some proper responses to fear. First we must remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear “but of power, love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” (I Tim 1:7-8a) If we take that verse point by point it is illustrative.

A Spirit of power. Christ Himself commanded his disciples not to far those who can do harm to the body, but “rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matt 10:28 God knows that we are imperfect and weak vessels, and yet he charges us to take his message to all those who would hear, so that they might believe. How are they to confess if they have not believed, how are they to believe if they have not heard, how are they to hear without someone preaching.(Rom 10:14) We access God’s power through, total reliance on Him through His word, prayer and the inner working of the Holy Spirit, so we must seek after these.

A spirit of love. God so loved the world he sent his son, he was willing to sacrifice part of himself to give life to all who believed. How much do we love those around us? Everyone we see who is without Christ is bound to face eternal separation from God apart from his grace. Now we can not save them, furthermore we cannot force them to believe, for it is God alone who justifies; who predestines, calls, glorifies and justifies. But we know that we abide in Him when we love one another and his love is perfected in us. (I John 4:12-13) If we claim the name of Christ then how can we not share his desire that “none should perish but that all should have life.” In Mark chapter 6, Jesus came to a crowd saw them and had compassion because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” We too must have compassion for those who are in need of the Great Shepherd. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…we love because he first loved us.”(I John 4:18-19) If we truly believe this, then how can we not let love overcome our fear.

A spirit of self control. God has given you the grace of salvation, a sharp mind, and a spirit of self control. We must “prepare our minds for action,” be sober-minded and gird ourselves, setting our hope fully on the Glory which is to be revealed in Christ’s coming. (I Peter 1:13) Preparing our mind takes discipline, and we must equip ourselves with the tools God has given us. Foremost of these tools is the Spirit, who comforts and helps us, indeed he is our helper. Next is the word of God, which is the sword of the spirit by which souls are saved. Then we have the church, to aide us in equipping and bearing the burdens of ministry. Utilize these faithfully and you should be able to do all things “through Him who strengthens you!”(Phil 4:13) “All things” surely includes overcoming your fear to witness to those around you.


Recognizing Resentment…

May 22, 2012



We have examined over the past several weeks the struggles of doubt, jealousy, anger and complacency.  Each one of those traits and struggles is fundamentally sourced in human pride and sinfulness.  And with each we have examined the individual ways and strategies to combat their ill-effects.  But what happens when those ill-effects linger?  What happens if we fail to combat anger with the love and mercy of God?  What effects occur when we fail to cast our eyes on Christ and overcome doubt?  What happens to our relationships when we fail to repent of our jealousy and rightly give glory to God for all He has given us and others? The answer to these questions is resentment.  Resentment is not a core condition, it is not a primary residence for feeling, rather resentment is the effect of the on-going presence of anger, jealousy, envy, doubt and pride.

Resentment is best described as being like rust.  We can drive over a bridge, or pass an old car and see the tell-tale signs of decay and destruction.  Rust weakens structures through the slow and deliberate reactionary process of decay.  But rust is not the primary cause of the weakness.  Rust is the after effect of a process called oxidation.  When iron metal is exposed to air (oxygen) and water the molecules begin to slowly decay.  The effect of this decay is rust.  If left untreated, rust will weaken the strongest structures and turn what was once dependable and sure into something that may appear strong but in fact is frail.  This is like resentment.  Resentment is a slow process, that begins with weaknesses inherent in the structure of our make up as sinful humans.  Without proper care and precaution, we harbor hatred and anger, un-forgiveness and jealousy and soon this creates resentment.  Slowly, perhaps in ways not obvious to others, we begin to corrode and decay, we become weak and ultimately unstable.

God has given us our emotions for His Glory; our memory for His Glory; our energy for His Glory, but resentment pollutes and perverts all of these gifts.  Resentment turns our emotions against us, as we take our eyes off of God and place them on others.  When we rightly place our gaze on God, we relate all occurrences to His mercy and grace; to the point that whenever something good happens to someone else we feel good and rejoice in what God has done for them.  But resentment occurs when we take our eyes off of God and look at other people, comparing our lives to theirs absent the perspective of God’s sovereignty.  We begin to be jealous of them, we’re envious and this slowly begins to produce within us resentment.

God has given us memory to recall His past glory and to shore up our future hope.  How glorious is one’s memory when it is rightly reflecting on what God has done.  But resentment molds our memories and steals our joy and hope.  Its like an overdeveloped photograph, you can see faint details of the event captured, but the overall picture of the past is overwhelmed by this tinge of haze that crowds out the details of the picture.  Resentment colors events and crowds out the good details of the past and overemphasizes the negative ones.  We can see this so clearly in the Exodus narrative.  The Israelites are delivered from 400 years of slavery and bondage and once in the wilderness slowly begin to resent, well, everything.  The resent God, feeling as though He delivered them out to die in the wilderness.  They resent Moses because He is the only one who has communion with God.  And their memories are polluted by this resentment to the point that they begin to wish for their old life in Egypt.  This is why so often in the Psalms and in the Prophets the writers admonish the people of Israel to remember the works of the Lord!  Remember His goodness, do not be caught up in resentment; this gives us hope when we remember His love and care for us.

God has given us Energy for His glory, and by energy I mean the desire to be active and work for God.  God has given each and every one of us a task, no matter where we are in life to proclaim the gospel! We are to have an outward direction to our energies as we “go into all the nations…” baptizing and teaching, proclaiming the “marvelous excellencies of the One who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:8)  But resentment redirects our energy.  Instead of pouring out, our energies are directed inward to ourselves.  We cease to be of any use for the kingdom as we spend so much time caught up in our own anger and envy of others.

Ultimately we may appear structurally sound, but if the sins of pride, jealousy, and anger have taken residence in our hearts, the rust of resentment begins to appear.  And if left un-addressed, overtime, it will eat away at us and we will become increasingly weak and less and less useful.


“Resentment is like you taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (Anonymous)



On Defining Depression…

May 16, 2012

Webster’s defines depression as: “an act of depressing or a state of being depressed: as a (1) : a state of feeling sad (2) : a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.”

Fundamentally though, depression is the emotional experience of the perceived absence of God’s love and affection; that stems from guilt, sadness, fear, or isolation; resulting in prolonged sorrow and inward anger.This affliction affects both Christians and non-Christians alike.

We must remember why we were created. Human beings were not created to exist in isolation, human beings were not created to live for themselves; rather, Mankind was created by God, in His image, to exercise dominion over creation and share communion with God, enjoying Him forever. Sin however, corrupts this plan, sin comes between us and our emotional experience of being in and enjoying God’s presence. Consider Adam and Eve in the garden; once sin occurs they scurry and flee from God, covering themselves in shame and hiding from the One who calls to them in love.

For those without God: Apart from God man feels fear, confusion of purpose, and discouragement, this is the experience of every one of us apart from Christ. This fear and discouragement lead us to seek comfort in every quarter of the world, and when we have exhausted all the world has to offer in terms of comfort, depression begins to set in.

For the Christian: Depression sets in when we no longer perceive the presence of God’s love. This does not mean that His love is absent or that our hope is invalid, we simply cannot feel the warmth of His hope emotionally. Sin obscures this hope, guilt clouds our view of God, disappointment in others and in ourselves binds our hope and afflicts our souls.

Depression may arise out of spiritual angst, physical deformity or perhaps biological imbalance. Concerning biology it is important to remember that the Fall affected not only our standing with God but the very fabric of our human physical existence. The fractures of creation spread across human spirituality, human physiology, human biology and human interaction, like a shattered windshield, until every inch of the surface is obscured. Man in his wisdom and by God’s grace, has developed ways, medically, to address perceived diagnosed biological causes for depression. And just like taking aspirin for headaches many may be able to find some portion of relief through medical means. That having been said, too often Christians and non-Christians resort to medical solutions without ever turning to the Bible, their local church, or to God to address their depression.

For all those who experience depression, the greatest resource we possess is God revelation of His love for us through His word. This revelation speaks to His eternal purpose for our lives; His love and grace which overcomes our sin; His promise seen in the future return of His son, in which we place all our hope. (1 Peter 1:13) Often when going through depression, we find little comfort in these truths, but the Word gives us an anchor that is eternal, imperishable, unbreakable, powerful, and sure to moor our lives to and ground our unstable emotions. If one does not know Christ, the first step is to repent believe and be baptized, confess Christ and experience the joy of God’s love found in His grace through Christ. For those of us who do know Christ, we must continually confront our downcast souls with the command repeated over and over again to “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps. 42)

Read on and take comfort in the death of depression through our HOPE in God.

Depressions Death through HOPE…


Hope and Fear Revealed…

May 4, 2010

Revelation 19-22.

Out of all the chapters in the Bible these three are, for me, the most awe inspiring and frightening.  My fright does not come from any fear of abandonment or uncertainty quite the opposite.  These passages inspire a fear of God, a healthy fear, one we are far too reticent to embrace today.  There is so much packed into these passages, theologically speaking, that it is safe to say no two groups have found agreement on their total meaning.  And I must be honest in saying that my speculation as to “the end” spelled out in these chapters is just that, speculation, marred by a fallen mind.  So I leave these chapters with two primary thoughts; one fear and one hope.

My fear.  The pervasive all encompassing nature of God’s Holy Glory.  Throughout these chapters, verse by verse, we are confronted with God’s un-yielding holiness.  We know the song that we will sing eternally, from previous chapters and from Isaiah “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”(Rev 4:8)  This song is made manifest in God’s actions throughout 19-22; God will judge completely the whole of heaven and earth and the armies of Heaven WILL bring recompense against the wicked.  The birds will gorge on the flesh of the wicked, on the beast and the false prophet, and Satan himself will be cast into everlasting seperation from all that is good.  Those who are not chosen, separated out and made holy by Christ, finding their names absent in the book of life; WILL be cast into the lake of fire.  These ends and these judgments are certain, they WILL happen and they should inspire us to warn others of what will come.  We must tell others that while God’s judgement is certain, so too is His grace to save all who call on His name.

My Hope.  One of the most touching verses in all of Scripture is found in Revelation 21:5, “and he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”  Thanks be to God that this phrase is true; that it has been true throughout history; and that it will be true for all of eternity.  Where would I be if not a new creation in Christ?  What hope is found in the truth that He who made the world; who will judge the world to utter destruction; shall once again remake the world, heavens and earth to and for his glory.  And from that glory this new creation shall never pass.  Darkness will perish and night shall be no more, God will be the light and all of us found in Him shall reign with Him forever.  I and all of this creation yearn for that which will be made new for His glory; that I may enjoy Him forever and sing Hallelujah to Him who called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light.