Let Me Be Frank…(no fear)

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:1-2

There is a war inside of me.  It’s the war of not good enough vs. better than yesterday.  And unfortunately, the battle can begin at a moment’s notice.  Maybe an example is in order. 
I was sitting in the McDonald’s drive thru when I realized that the truck a couple of vehicles ahead of me wasn’t moving.  Complete stand still.  It’s a big truck and there was no going around this thing.  And you could feel the death stares and sense the frustration of EVERYONE behind this guy.  When was he going to move?!?
I got out of my car (in the middle of the drive thru) and helped the guy push his vehicle to an empty parking space.  He thanked me and I left feeling pretty good about myself.  Then I remembered the shake I was going to get.  I headed inside to place my order (this was BC – Before COVID) and then promptly proceeded to spill the vanilla shake all over the counter.  Any good I felt vanished in an instant.
The war may rage, but the victory has already been won.  Isaiah 43:2 gives us the promise of God but who is it for?  “He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel.”  In Genesis 32 we read that God gives Jacob a new name.  His new name? Israel.
The Lord created you.  He put talents and gifts in you.  He put hopes and dreams deep down inside of you.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got some stuff to sort through as you reach for those hopes and dreams.  But God loves you and He wants the absolute best for you!
The next part is what blows my mind…  He formed me.  Forming is a process.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes surrender.  And God is molding and making me in His image, who He created me to be.  There may be a battle inside me, but I know who ultimately wins my heart.
“The rivers will not overwhelm you.  The flames will not consume you.  Fear not, for I have redeemed you and called you by name.”

And the God who calls us will equip us.  And the God who equips us will walk with us.  And the God who walks with us will continue doing that good work in our hearts while the battle rages.  Fear not, dear heart.  The victory has already been won.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Let Me Be Frank… (confident)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”    Deut 31:6
“Do not fear.”
I like running out in the country.  It’s nice to get some fresh air and a good (albeit slow) run generally clears my head.  I live on the outskirts of town, but it still takes half a mile or so to hit the countryside.  My plan was to run to the water treatment plant and back that day.  There’s a huge dip in the road there and it’s blocked out for traffic now, but it opens up to some nice views.  And I was looking forward to those views as I came up out of the dip in the road and saw two stray dogs that were seated at the house. 
I wasn’t sure if they saw me so I started to run like a ninja.  I’m not sure what that looks like, exactly, but it didn’t matter.  The chase was on and they were barking pretty loud.  These were not the furry friends I was looking for. 
I outran them and looked back to see them slow down.  I was proud of myself as I continued my run.  But then I realized that I had to go back that way too.

“Courage lies just on the other side of confidence.”

Now I wasn’t confident that I could outrun those dogs again.  In fact, I was pretty winded from the first sprint.  So, I was relieved when I started down the dip in the road with no strays in sight.
And then, like a scene from Lion KingÔ, the stray dogs came into view at the bottom of the dip.  I was going to have to run through them in order to get home.
When someone says, “do not fear” we immediately think of life-threatening scenarios or deep-seated phobias (insert clown reference here).  But the fears we face are most often the voices in our heads…  “Am I good enough?  How do we navigate this?  What if they don’t hear me?”
But I love what Levi the Poet says, “Don’t forget that there are voices on the outside of your head, too, and they sound like futures and hopes and dreams and music and love.” 
It’s okay to be shaken.  It’s ok to be overwhelmed.  It’s even ok to be afraid.  But please remember that you don’t have to do this on your own.  There are so many people cheering you on.  And the God of Moses and Joshua is your God too.  And HE will not leave you nor forsake you. 
“Do not fear.”
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Let Me Be Frank… (facts)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.  His praise endures forever!
Psalm 111:10

“Facts over fear.”  It’s a tagline that a news anchor uses nowadays when referring to a segment on COVID-19.  The idea is that the more facts you gather, the more informed you are.  And the more informed you are, the more your fear subsides.  When Marea and I heard his tagline for the first time, it caught us off guard.  It’s obviously a play on words because many of us having been using the quote, “Faith over fear” for years.  So how do we abide in the “fear of the Lord” when everyone tells us not to “live in fear.”
The psalmist tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Psalm 111 tells of God’s greatness and His good works and culminates with a “wisdom saying” that outlines the proper human response to the Lord’s greatness.
Basically, we praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done.  And when we start there, knowing that God is for us and not against us, we do not fear what comes next.  But there is another definition for “fear” that we must understand.
The fear of the Lord is about reverence and humility.  We bow in the presence of a King.  When our hearts are rooted in this reverence and humility we approach our lives in a way that honors Christ.  This is the beginning of wisdom.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

I’ve held this verse close to my heart for several years.  It’s helped me process feelings and situations when I am overwhelmed and I don’t know what to do next.  And, in this current landscape, with all the what-if’s and what-next’s, it’s easy to wonder if God is even listening anymore.
But Proverbs 3:5 isn’t a prescription for blind faith.  It’s not an excuse to disregard science or facts.  It’s simply placing our focus where it should have been all along…  When we fear the Lord we’ll begin to abide in the knowledge and wisdom of His Kingdom.  We won’t look for someone to explain our current situation, because we already have a King who is mighty to save. 
Are you approaching life in a way that honors Christ?  Do you fear the Lord and come before Him in reverence and humility?  Information is helpful, but wisdom changes the game.  And true wisdom comes from God.
Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER!