Fear and Uncertainty

A 2010 survey of American ministers ranked Andy Stanley as the 10th most influential living pastor. I doubt seriously that his ratings have fallen any. He’s an incredible preacher.

Our Wednesday night Bible study uses videos by various teachers and preachers, and I doubt whether any of our group would fail to put Andy at the top of our list of favorites. He speaks to us, even as he speaks to his own  congregation.

Last week we started watching a new series of Andy’s–new for us, anyhow. It’s called Tough As Nails. That first sermon was a knockout.

I don’t have to tell you that the world is full of uncertainty. I suppose it always has been, but things have gotten far worse than any of us could have imagined. And they’ll probably keep getting worse. How can they fail to with all the evil in the world and the world itself constantly growing smaller through the Internet and other forms of telecommunications?

None of us can be certain we’ll be alive tomorrow, much less next near. Any of us could fall victim to a crazed killer with a gun or a terrorist with a bomb or a machete. Or an equally crazed world leader with his finger on the trigger of a nuclear bomb that’s aimed in our direction. Or someone who’ll poison our water supply or take down our power grids.

Not to mention the threat of another megalomaniac president who’ll take away even more of our freedoms, including the ability to defend ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve been satisfied with wondering whether whether I’ll end up in a nursing home, perhaps for a prolonged period of time. Or die of cancer, a heart attack, or maybe be killed in an auto accident. Normal uncertainties I have no way of predicting the outcome of. Anymore than I can predict whether any of those more drastic concerns will ever affect me or us.

I’ll be honest. By nature, I tend to be a worrier. Or at least a fretter. (Not talking about my guitar playing.) But the older I’ve grown, the more I’ve learned to depend on God. As the old spiritual says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” I’ve reached the point I’d go crazy if I weren’t able to put as much faith as possible into that belief.

In that first Andy Stanley video, he introduced a short–but very appropriate–statement: Uncertainty is unavoidable; fear is optional.

Cool, huh?

I don’t think many of us would argue that uncertainty is here to stay. Especially as the possibilities we’re uncertain about  grow more and more drastic.

Christians don’t need to fear the things we feel uncertain about, though. Andy Stanley reminded us of this advice Jesus gave His disciples:

Stop being afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.  (Matthew 10:28, NIV)

With the prospect of eternity in Heaven, what difference does uncertainty about our earthly future make? When I think about that, my former fears tend to melt away. I feel much braver. Yes, braver. And much more capable of facing uncertainty with confidence.

Yes, someone can kill my body, but that doesn’t destroy my faith in the One who’s the keeper of my soul.

Andy Stanley is right. Fear is optional, and my choice is to put my hand in God’s and put fear further and further behind me.

What about you? Do you worry about the uncertainties of life? How about sharing a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Am I a Hypocrite?

If I recall correctly, I recently mentioned the fact that my church hosts a group of homeless men in the CARITAS program one week a year, and I help out with other members of my Sunday School class one night during that time. We get their evening meal ready and pack bag lunches for them to take wherever they go the next day. Some of our class members are more outgoing in talking to the men–there are usually about forty of them–and I actually sat down with one of them this year for what turned out to be an extended conversation.

CARITAS is a worthy program and our participation isn’t very challenging. Even though I never look forward to it each year, I’m always glad I helped out.

That’s not what I feel hypocritical about, though.

beggar2

Just off of Rt. 1 at the entrance to our local Martins Grocery Store, I frequently see a tanned, trim, bearded fellow sitting on the median strip where people exiting at the light can’t miss seeing him. Especially if they’re stopped for a red light.

He always brings a chair or a stool–one very hot day recently he was shading himself beneath an umbrella–and water. Oh, and he has a sign. As you can see from the picture above, it says, “Spare change. Anything will help” and “God bless.” It does NOT say, “Will work for food.”

I’m jealous of Jesus, especially regarding this man. He knows people’s hearts. He knows this guy’s circumstances and whether offering him even the smallest of contributions would be good or foolish.

Yes, Jesus knows and I sure don’t. I’ve always been skeptical of beggars. And knowing that the men of CARITAS are genuinely homeless and that many of them actually have jobs but just not a place to live doesn’t help me feel any better about this guy.

The Bible talks about helping widows and orphans. This man doesn’t qualify. And Jesus said the poor will always be with us. But what do I do about this fellow?

I don’t dislike him. I would probably feel very sorry for him if I could determine the truth about his situation and if it demonstrated genuine need.

Am I a hypocrite for willingly helping with CARITAS but ignoring this man? I honestly don’t know.

I almost wish I could conveniently park and stop and talk to him. It’s not as if I’m afraid of him. But so far the best I’ve managed was to smile and wave at him once. Maybe twice. If I had an unopened bottle of water in the car, I’d probably offer it to him. But that’s the extent of what I’d do.

WWJD? What would Jesus do? I can only shake my head. He’d know the best thing to do. The right thing. He was never hypocritical about anything. And He never ignored people’s needs. Their real needs.

What would you do? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger