March 4, 2021.
Each of us deal with fear throughout our days. But sometimes, we need to deal with it as Enemy #1. As a young man in my twenties I realized how pervasive the voice of fear was in my life, and how much it was ruining my relationships and weakening my ministry. It was even beginning to affect my marriage. Thankfully, I had some seasoned men of God that helped me face off with the spirit of fear – like Paul talked about with young Timothy. Looking back, winning the battle over that voice turned out to be one of the greatest spiritual steps I’ve ever taken. It closed many darkened doors in my future, and opened up many kingdom doors for me, my family and ultimately the churches I served. At some point, most of us need to rise and attack the voice of fear.
#JesusStories: Matthew 8 tells of a day the disciples were rowing across Galilee when “a terrible storm suddenly struck the lake.” Terrible storms are the perfect metaphor for understanding fear – they both come upon us suddenly and paralyze us. That was surely occurring with the disciples as they panicked and called out for Jesus’ help, but he was asleep in the bow of the boat. I love the image of a sleeping Jesus – it is a picture of a man who is not being victimized by fear. Maybe one day we can all be like him and take naps during storms. When Jesus awoke amidst their shouts he said something very unexpected, “Why are you so afraid?” Wow, that is a bigger question than most realize. Forty years ago, I needed that question to be pressed into my soul over and over again until it changed me.
Whenever Jesus asks this question, it forces his people to face their humanity. Humanly speaking, terrible storms are the perfect times to be afraid. Sitting in a boat with three foot sides while being slammed by ten foot waves is a rational time to panic. Right? But here is another critical lesson about the nature of fear – it usually stems from an honest concern. In this year of Covid deaths, mounting suicides, spiking drug overdoses, increasing poverty, and decreasing church engagement, these are good reasons for us to fear. And yet, Jesus would still ask his famous question, “Why are you so afraid?” He wants us to understand the why beneath our fear. And we must confront that why before we will have mastery over that voice. The why beneath our fear is always the same – the storm is bigger than our abilities. For the disciples: the ten-foot waves were bigger than their three-foot boat. For us: the contagions, the grief, the poverty, and the losses are bigger than our capacity to respond. When the human-limitation-perspective prevails, the voice of fear becomes overwhelming.
We however, have been called to enter into the God-perspective, the faith-perspective, the Jesus-who-can-color-outside-the-lines-perspective. This story ends with Jesus commanding the waves to settle down, and him going back to his nap. The disciples were left in a quiet boat to wrestle with their limitation-perspective that dominated them. They had a choice to make. We have a choice to make.
- My biggest fear is failure. On second thought, my biggest fear is rejection. On third thought, actually my biggest fear is the shame that comes from rejection after a failure. -JR Briggs
- Leadership is the constant process of conquering fear. -Don Ross
#PracticalStuff: This might be a great time to call your leadership team together for an Acts Prayer Gathering – to make the spiritual journey from fear & weakness to boldness & strength. Start by reading Acts 4:23-31.
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.