Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fear Or Faith?

Most psychologists believe that there are only two fears we are born with.  One being the fear of loud noises, the other is the fear of falling.  I don't know about you but on occasion, throughout my life I have certainly dealt with more than just those two fears.   To this day I am afraid of roller coasters that go upside down!
In reality I am not talking about getting over lesser fears such as fear of amusement park rides.  I am referring to phobias and fears that might be based on hurtful or tragic childhood situations or anything that immobilizes us, that keeps us from trusting God and that freezes our feet to the floor when it comes to exercising our faith.   These might include fear of rejection, fear of being unloved, fear of our health collapsing,  fear of lack of finances,  fear of intimacy, or even fear of success.  The list is as long as there are hearts and souls who endure them.
As we delve into the next chapter in Robert A. Schuller's "Leaning Into God When Life Is Pushing You Away" we explore the relationship between our faith in God vs. our fear of anything else.   It doesn't matter what kind of fear it is.  Fear negates faith.  When our faith is negated our closeness to God is weakened.  When our closeness to God is weakened we are living a life which has less meaning and significance.  There is a story in the Bible found in the New Testament book of Matthew, chapter 8, verses 23-27 which finds Jesus out on the sea of Galilee in a huge storm.   He had fallen asleep and awoke to his disciples yelling at him to do something!  Jesus replied to the disciples, "you of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (vs 26) In the book of Mark when reading the same story he is quoted as asking, "why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith.?"  Jesus did not say, "why are you so unbelieving?"  For Jesus the opposite of faith is not unbelief but it is fear.  In fact the words "fear" and "afraid" occur more than 520 times in the Bible.  Fear has been plaguing humans forever.
  Robert goes on to write that our life can be defined by how one perceives the future.  Are you defining your life by your faith or by your fears?
We are now more almost two months into the new year of 2010.  By this time you should have a clear idea of what your goals for this year will be.  Mine are written out and framed where I can see them every day.  I have eleven clear-cut goals which cover several different categories in my life:  spiritual, physical, professional and personal goals.   If you have not clearly defined what you would like to accomplish this year I want to encourage you to take the time today and do this.   If you are failing to plan, you might be planning to fail and God wants you to be a success so you can be a light in a dark world.    A good source to help you define your goals is called "The One Page Miracle" taken from a chapter in a book by Dr. Daniel Amen.   You can Google "one page miracle" and find a very helpful template to follow.   As you begin the process of writing out your goals first start by praying and asking for God's guidance.  Next you might want to evaluate where you have come from in the last year of 2009 including making note of any goals that you did not accomplish so that you can roll them over into this year.  It is never too late to start over!! 
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for evil.  Plans to prosper you and give you a future filled with hope.   Jeremiah 29:11
God is blessing you.   Donna

Thursday, February 4, 2010



  What timing for our next chapter review in "Leaning Into God When Life Is Pushing You Away"!  Our discussion on my husband's book now takes us to "Finding Freedom When Isolated Through Humiliation."   According to the dictionary the definition of humiliation is "reducing or lowering one's position in their own eyes or in the eyes of others."  Further, the act of trying to humiliate someone can be extremely destructive to one's self-respect and dignity.
  Maybe you read one of the twenty or so recent press releases issued by the Crystal Cathedral just a few days ago?  Ironically this deluge of several derogitory interviews and stories started on my birthday,  January 29th,  and ran through the weekend!  If you caught any of these stories you might have picked up on some rather disparaging remarks being slung around regarding my husband, Robert.  One of our friends on the East Coast emailed us an article from the New York Times along with the comment, "They sure threw you under the bus!"
Figuratively speaking, of course,  there will always be those people who want to throw us under the bus, feed us to the sharks, or dump us into a deep well to get rid of us (as did Joseph's brothers in the Old Testament story).   The important thing to ask yourself is "when these injustices happen to me, how am I going to react?"  I would be dishonest if I didn't tell you that after I read the articles I wanted to "set the record straight" for the many misrepresentations that were quoted in some of the articles.  I wanted to scream, "leave my husband out of your mess... we have moved on!"  I wanted to dig through our records to provide proof that my husband had nothing to do with the downturn of what was once a very successful Christian ministry.   I wanted to share with the world some of the thousands of sad letters and comments that have arrived for us over the past year and a half via email and the U.S. post office.  I was so angry because I felt that once again Robert had been unjustly accused in an attempt to humiliate him.  Only a few days prior Robert's good news that his new program, "Everyday Life" had been nominated for a MovieGuide Award was announced.   For hours I contemplated revenge and my mind was filled with frustration and thoughts of getting back at the people who continue to try to hurt us.  The good news is this:   I did not do any of the above... nor will I.   Instead I went outside the next morning and I did what I always do.   I read my Bible and I prayed.   I read half of Psalm 119 one day and the other half the next.  I meditated on verses such as:  22-24  "Remove me from scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.  Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.  Your statutes are my delight.  They are my counselors."  And verses 69, and 70,  "Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,  I keep your precepts with all my heart.  Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,  but I delight in your law. "
The truth is the more I think about humiliation the more I conclude that no one can humiliate you without your permission.  The great psychologist and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl experienced the worst kind of humiliation through his near death experience in the concentration camp.  Through all his suffering and pain he practiced as part of what he later taught in his "logotherapy"  "you can take everything away from me but you can never take away my freedom of how I will react".
  We read in the new testament, "It is for freedom the Christ has set us Free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery...You my brothers, were called to be free."  Galatians 5:1, 13   Yes, we are free to decide how we will react to people's attempt to humiliate us.   They cannot enslave us by forcing us to react the way they want us to.   My husband ends the chapter by saying that the last thing in the world you want to do when you have been humiliated is to disconnect from God and his truth.  Indeed you want to do what Jesus did in the day of his own humiliation--entrust yourself to God:  "when they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."  1 Peter 2:23
Maybe you have felt humiliated over the loss of a marriage, a job, your health, or your reputation.  Or perhaps you have been made a scapegoat as a result of another person's mistake.  Although these situations can be painful and you will need to go through a season of healthy grief, remember in the end that Christ has set you free.   With God's help and through prayer,  you decide how you will react to life's ups and downs.   Entrust your lives to Him and remember that God is blessing you always!  Donna