When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?

Book Review: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst

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Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst is a book to help you take the rejection life throws at us and give to God who is waiting for us. This is not a self help book that promises relief in three easy steps. Lysa’s points on how rejection affects life will hit home with most people. She makes the book personal, sharing feelings that are genuine and relatable.

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This book is not designed to be read in one sitting. It is designed to be read a chapter at a time so that the thoughts of the author and Biblical truths can be digested into your life. This is a book you put down to think, pray, and sometimes cry over. Yet at the same time, you’ll want to keep reading because you found the topic so engaging.

Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true.

We have all been rejected at some point in our life. Rejection hurts and can cause thoughts to grow that are not true. Not only did I learn how to deal with past rejection and how to stop rejection pain from taking root. But I also learned that by extending the same love God gives to me, to others, I can help stop the cycle of rejection.

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After reading Uninvited, I have thought differently about the things that are said and done to me. I have thought about my own actions and words toward not only myself but also my friends and family. Uninvited is definitely a book I would recommend to others, be prepared with a highlighter.

God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live…loved.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Rejecting the Story

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We minimize and reject portions of the story God is telling through our lives. Stuffing those experiences, those moments we don’t want to talk about, away.

Wounds become scabs. Ready to be made raw at a moments notice. A simple comment made; A scene from a TV show. Pain discovered anew.

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

Walking grief is the new norm. We don’t even know that we are living in this manner, sick. Ignoring the bigger story God is weaving. Denying that pain has occurred. Until one day, someone speaks truth. Giving light to the darkest depths of anguish.

Expectations rule us. We perceive that others do not want to hear what we are going through.

“They are sick and tired of us talking about this,” we say.

A pit of lies.

And yet we live in denial of the story being written. Telling God that He is not there in that moment. While failing to realize that He has never left.

It’s jarring to read about video games one day and then infertility the next. It’s uncomfortable.

Welcome to JohnnyBGamer.

 

Full of It

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My intestines won’t stop moving. I feel like a punching bag. The sides of my stomach hurt. I have no idea why. Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is debilitating.

The first time IBS found me was in elementary school. I remember running around the house, clutching my stomach, screaming. My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. A few uncomfortable medical procedures later, nothing.

High school was an IBS nightmare. The thing about IBS is that it can sneak up on you in a moments notice. Forcing you into an immediate posture of porcelain throne worship. I remember a friend telling me that it was all in my head. That I was the one causing it.

I remember a distinct feeling of wishing I could transfer my IBS to someone else. If they could only feel what my body does to me, they would know that I am more of a hostage to something far bigger.

The Apostle Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians. I have always related to that.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

I have wondered if God gave me IBS as a way to keep me humble, focused on Him. In times of an attack, I pray for God’s strength to get through those moments.

My thorn in the flesh is not visible nor is it logical. I can’t tell when it is going to come and visit next. But I have learned to notice when my body is tightening up; I have learned that exercise helps reduce stress. God has taught me to rely on His strength when I have none. I just need to rely on Him when I am running at full capacity.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Game on, dear friends. Game on.

Longing For That Missing Person

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There is a room in our house that is empty. Sure, there might be an odd trainboard or even a bed and dresser, but the room is missing someone. Someone my wife and I have yet to meet.

For the past six years, we’ve been trying to have a baby. Methods have been tried, doctors have been visited. Nothing.

This is a pain I carry, a pain that feels like failure.

My wife and I come from big families. Raising an only son, we’ve come to discover just how much we learned about life from our siblings. Precious life lessons that have aided in our basic survival:

  • Someone punches you, punch them back
  • Trash talking
  • Learning to get along with someone that might not be nice because they are the only person around to play with (I’m looking at you, Kayla!)

Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.

Someone is missing. I can feel it. And at the same time I am trying to be thankful for what has been given to me. Struggling to wrap my mind around raising an only child. Wondering if my wife and I want to go back to the baby stage. We do/we can.

There is hope. Anguish. Emotions that ebb and flow.

God is working. Weaving a story together we cannot see. The pain my wife and I experience may not be physical, but the pain is real. I am grateful that I do not have to go about this alone (I love you, baby).

I’m tired of being silent. I want that missing person to come home.

Lord, my heart is torn in two. It’s up to You, God.