Don’t Post…Pray

As the post coronavirus world spins about with seemingly little regard for the axis of sanity, men and women find their hearts weighted down by tomorrow’s fears. Like the soothsayers of old, they dissect the animal of social media, seeking to extract messages about the future. Equipped with unverified tidbits of truth, they take to social media, believing a barrage of tweets and articles linked to their Facebook page will convince the world that social distancing will lead to the downfall of the United States. Others fear a lack of facemask will result in thousands of needless deaths. Regardless of the fear, most American seek the same anti-dote: social media validation. This should not be the practice of the Christian. We should find our hope in the sweet closet of prayer, tucked away from buzzing highway of social media.

David wrote Psalm 3 as his world descended into chaos. His son, Absalom, had declared himself king. As David fled Jerusalem, his top advisor joined the rebellion. In the space of a few hours, the comforts of home were replaced with the fears of death. The whole world had gone against him. David writes, “Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God (Ps 3:2).” Though David’s world lacked sanity, David did not lack hope. He knew God was his shield. Though men had turned against him, David knew God had placed him on Israel’s throne. God’s could not be overthrown by a rouge prince. David placed his trust in God.

Christian have even more cause to place their trust in God because he has died for their sin. The Christian’s glory is the glory of God given to her at salvation. God died to save her, lifting her from death to life. Since God saved her, she has every reason to trust God with her coronavirus fears.

Facebook post cannot keep you or I from catching the nasty virus. Twitter battles cannot prevent the downfall of our nation. But God can. Not only can God protect us, we can trust him to protect us for he hears our cries for help. David writes, “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Though David slept in a tent while Absalom slept atop David’s castle, God heard David. Though fears may dance atop our hearts, God still hears and answers our prayers from the pit of chaos.

The Christian’s Instagram post will not change the thinking of the President, of the Governor, or of the mayor. They will not hear the Christian’s theory about what the doctors are really up to. If the truth-be-told, most of our friends will not take our concerns seriously. But God hears the cries of his people. The ruler of the universe who directs the hearts of kings and who laughs at the armies of earth hears our prayers. Our Facebook posts cannot prevent anarchy. But, God can. Our Twitter wars cannot heal the sick. But, God can. Our Instagram posts cannot keep the church from mishandling the coronavirus crisis. But, God can. E.M. Bounds notes,

National affairs need to be prayed over…Lawmakers, law judges, and law executives need leaders in Israel to pray for them. How much fewer mistakes if there was more praying done in civil matters?

Do you fear death, the destruction of the economy, or a police state? Follow David and pray to the God who hears you. To whom will you take your fears?

King Saul, Fear, and Why Anxiousness is a Sin

Fear, anxiety, and paranoia reveal a lack of faith. One of the most paranoid, anxious, and fearful biblical characters is King Saul. In 1 Samuel 22:6-19, he thinks the whole world is against him. He accuses his closets supporters of revolution and murder.  Consumed with worry, Saul then orders his troops to murder God’s priests because he believed they had “conspired against me.” Fear led Saul to commit unspeakable atrocities.

Saul’s soul pulses with fear because he had rejected God and had repeatedly tried to find  his security, peace, and hope in men and women. Saul offers unlawful sacrifices in 1 Samuel 13:11 because the, “people were scattering from me.” He also refuses to destroy the Amalekites because he “feared the people and obeyed their voice.” In response to Saul’s sin, God rejects Saul. The prophet Samuel declares, “You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel (1 Sam. 15:26b).” Saul felt anxious about everything from his friends to his political power because he lacked saving faith. Those who do not know Christ cannot help but be anxious.

Sadly, Christians struggle with anxiousness, fear, and paranoia even though “perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and many other Christians have found themselves engaged in a lifelong battle with fear and worry.

Because Christians of all eras and ages regularly battle fear, evangelical leaders have begun to label anxiousness and her sister terms as a mental illnesses, deserving of acceptance, love and compassion. One author tells us to “Never judge those with anxiety.” Another Christian counselor  has said chromic anxiety cannot “be cured by having more faith or praying more prayers.” The evangelical world has begun to view fear as an experience to be embraced, tolerated, and ultimately accepted. Essentially, the thinking goes, “I’m fearful and I am ok.”

Though many Christians struggle with fear, that struggle originates from a lack of faith. As seen in the Life of Saul, fear could only gain control of the life consumed by unfaithfulness. The priest Ahimelech and the future king David who have much more to fear than Saul find peace amidst the threat of death for they locate their trust in God, the King of Kings. Biblical Counselor Lou Priolo concluded,

Fear is God’s built in alarm system to let me know that I do not love God and others as the Bible says I should.

Christians experience fear, anxiousness, and paranoia because for brief moments they are living apart from faith like Saul. They should not embrace their fears. Rather they should examine their hearts to see where they have begun to stray from their faith.

To battle fear, Christians must do more than generically pray and have faith. They must reflect upon their God, their, salvation, and their purpose. The antidote to worry is the power of God. Even when Ahimelech and his family are murdered God reigns. Back in 1 Samuel 2:31, God had told the corrupt priest Eli, “Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house.” Though God hated Doeg’s actions, he still reigned even as evil destroyed Ahimelech’s family. In a much greater way, God reigned while evil men killed Jesus on the cross (Acts 2:22-24). Yet that great evil led to our greatest good, our salvation. If God’s will and his plan cannot be thwarted by the greatest tragedy of all time, Christians have no cause to fear the tragedies the sit outside their doors. They have no cause to fear employment, broken relationships, or even death itself. God reigns and their salvation is secure. Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted,

Of course they [those in heave] are happier than we are, they are in a land where there is no sin, no shame, no sorrow, no sighing; more happy – yes – but they are not more secure.

Jesus’s words found in John 10:28 should inflame our souls with hope and confidence: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Christians have no cause to fear; the perfect love of Christ cast out fear.

The followers of Jesus should also not fear because no trial can keep them from their purpose.  In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus said men and women were designed to do two things,

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

Christians can love God and their fellow human beings whether they live in palaces like Jonathan or are persecuted like David. They can live for the glory of God even if they are broke, are perpetually single, or receive discouraging news. Circumstances cannot keep us from God and keep us from fulfilling all that God requires of us. Christians have nothing to fear.

To eliminate fear, Christians do not need to flee their problems, they need to rest in their God, their salvation, and their purpose. And to foster a heart of faith, Christians must dive into the Words of God. Isaiah 26:3-4 clear states,

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

If you lack faith dive deep into the Scriptures. Read them; pray them; plead with God over them; use them to remind your heart of God’s character, of your salvation, and of your purpose.

Lloyd-Jones said, “A miserable Christian is, in a sense a contradiction in terms.” Do you agree?

3 Things Your Worrier Needs To Know!

panicI was in a panic. The fire alarms were going off. My worst night mare, dying in a fire, was coming to life. Without a moment’s hesitation, I bounded out of the bed and rushed out the hotel room door determined to get down to the first floor as fast as humanly possible. But in my hurry, I forget one thing, my parents. After a few steps down the hallway, I realized my mistake and fled back to hotel room door and began pounding on it. I was in a panic.

In Mark 4:30-40, we find Jesus disciples in a panic. They were not caught in a fire. They were caught in a terrible storm that threatened to kill them. As each wave crested over the boat, death seemed more and more probable. They began to be overwhelmed by fear.

And they are not alone. Many Christians today struggle with fear. Many of our believing kids struggle with fear. When they lose games, fail tests, and lose friends they can tend to panic. So what do we do when life goes bad? We remember these three truths:

3 Truths

1.       We need to tell our kids that suffering does not equal punishment. God allows the disciples to go through the storm with Jesus. Following Jesus does not mean we get our best life now. Salvation does not mean we will have all the friends we want, win all the trophies we desire, or earn the grades we think we need. As the Pastor Lloyd-Jones said,

If we are living the Christian…on the assumption that it means…you will never have any more worry in the whole of your life, we are harboring a terrible fallacy…a delusion.

In John 16:33, Jesus clear says his children will experience, “tribulation.” We must not be surprised that we encounter struggles. And we must encourage our kids to not be surprised that they face storms in this life.

2.       We must tell our kids to stop letting their circumstance control them. When I panicked and when the disciples panicked, we were looking at one thing, our circumstances. I thought I was about to die in a hotel fire. They thought they were about to die in a storm. And we panicked. We panicked because all we could see was our surroundings. We forgot to focus on God.

We must teach our kids that circumstances are not the measure of God’s love for us. The losing of a game, a bad report card, and the death of a grandparent do not mean that God hates us. Trials do not mean that God has forgotten us. In fact, Romans 5:3-5 clearly states that God uses trials to grow our faith. God brings blessing through hardship. If we have a kid who is in a panic, we need to point them to God. Instead of talking about their grades or softball stats, talk to them about God. Help them shift their focus off of their circumstances and onto heaven.

3.       We must encourage our kids to trust God. The disciples panicked because they lacked faith. We panic and our kids panic when we lack faith. When we forget that God saved us, when we forget that God gives us everything we need, when we forget that God rules and we panic. The solution for panic, the antidote for panic is faith. It is not a blind faith. Rather it is a faith in the character of God that has been proven in the Scriptures and throughout the centuries. Once I got back in the room and trusted my parents to get us out safely, things went well for me. We all got down to lobby and discover it had been a false alarm. Only faith can cure the panic.

Now admittedly, we may not feel like believing God. Our kids may feel that losing the tournament championship really is the end of the world. And this is why we need faith. We need to recall the Scriptures. We need to recall that all things are working together for good (Rom. 8:28). We need to recall that God loves us. And then we need to believe. We must exercise faith even when we don’t feel like it. We should take our concerns to God and affirm that we trust him. As I Peter 5:7 says, we are to be “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” If we will trust God, he will deliver us!