the logic of fearlessness

Amazing how my One Word “fearless” keeps showing up! Although I’ve forgotten about it lately, it has likely still being showing up without me noticing. I’ve managed to collect a few verses though, over the last couple of months:

  • “that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15) from Perspectives;
  • “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:30-31) a colouring page;
  • “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) This one is a repeat, but in a different version. (In fact, it was my memory verse one month.)
  • “[you know] how I did not shrink back in fear from telling you anything that was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public meetings, and from house to house…” (Acts 20:20 AMP) from Church-Wide Prayer.

This morning’s Piper devotional is about the “logic of fearlessness” (this should technically go into next month’s post, but I need to go over it while I’m… at it!)

The verses are from Philippians 1:27-29: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… not frightened in anything by your opponents… For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”

So, “living worthy of the gospel” means fearlessness before enemies (I take “enemies” to include sin/temptors, suffering etc.), and the logic of fearlessness is that God has given you two gifts–“it has been granted to you…”:

  • faith (or, fearlessness)
  • suffering (the Enemy/opponent)

“For it has been granted to you that… you should not only believe in him but also suffer…”

BOTH of these things are in the hands of God, so they are in HIS control. He helps me believe (be fearless) in the face of suffering, and he only allows whatever suffering/opponents are for my good, and his glory. (For his glory means it will cause people to praise him.) I would add that when I’m reminded “it’s all according to plan”–God’s plan–it gives me incredible purpose in life!

My last memory work was Psalm 121, very easy, however the last few verses gave me difficulty just because I kept forgetting to work at it. Time to move on. Seems like Philippians 1:29 would be a good one!

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it’s both good and bad

I’ve thought about posting so many times over the past week… if only I’d been able to do it when things were fresh in my mind…

To go with my “fearless”, One Word for 2020, Sam was quite afraid about going to the hospital last weekend when he broke his tibia. The plan was for me to go in the ambulance with him, but then they said it would be better for me to drive there myself, so we’d have a vehicle to leave again–and I completely forgot that we’d just gotten me installed with Lyft so that wouldn’t happen. Which means seeing him go off fearfully into the ambulance was the last time I saw him until the next day when he was discharged. All because of Covid.

All that reminded me of how I’ve always taken his feelings on myself, almost as if I was him–even to the point of loving his girlfriend, and then I was probably more upset then he was when she broke up with him. When he had that stomach-scraping test I couldn’t even bear to be in the same room to watch him suffer; when he was in the hospital with appendicitis at 7 years old, I remember being in tears; and way back when he was only a few months old and several doctors were looking at his eyes, he was crying like he was going to die, and even though they told me it really wasn’t hurting him physically, I was also crying. That last one points out two things: not only was it me taking on his emotions, but he’s always been easily bothered by those kinds of things.

Thinking of these things made me wonder if I actually made things worse for him, each of these times. However, another fact about Sam: he is acutely aware of everything going on around him. This often means simple things like hearing all the words to songs (is that why he never liked sad songs as a child?) or knowing when I’ve sneaked a few chocolate drops out of the tin. But thinking emotionally… it makes him sensitive to others’ feelings as well. Like being indignant about women’s rights, or even using “she” in scripture vs just “he”. (Rabbit trail here…)

Back to the emergency thing. When I finally checked on him to see that he was OK, it felt so much better. And he told me later that the workers were all pretty good at (mostly likely trained for) calming you down. Which brings another thought to mind: being sensitive to the scary/negative emotions, might also mean you’re sensitive/responsive to the good ones. Easy enough to calm you down.

And that reminds me of the little thought that came to my mind while I was sitting there waiting and waiting, and worrying for Sam. It seemed like God was reminding me of the times we’d leave our wee guy with the babysitter, and he’d be crying so hard… but just a few minutes later, when I sneaked back and peeked in the window, he was already happy as a lark! I’m going to remember that for next time. :)

(This is long enough, so I think I’ll include the notes from July’s fearless journal with next month’s.)

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The Lord is my keeper

Boy, it’s really hard to get myself to post these days. Not that there hasn’t been all kinds of great articles, etc. to make notes on. But at last I’ve been able to just use note-making as a way of helping me remember as-I’m-making-them. Then I can just read them over once, and discard. Of course, there are sometimes things that just need re-noting–making notes from the notes. Often I’m able to put them into my prayermate app, so they really get put to use.

And, sometimes they get copied here! Fearless notes, which were just made on a couple of days:

  • 06.02: Focus article (Navigating chaotic times with 3 unlikely biblical guides): “We do not know what to do”—Jehoshaphat; “For such a time as this”—Esther; “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”—Habakkuk
  • 06.19: Saul fearing men rather than God, affecting his obedience/disobedience..; Isa. 51:12-13 “afraid of man who is like grass… the Lord, your maker.”… “To turn from him out of fear of what man can do is to discount all that God promises to be for those who fear him. It is a great insult. And in such an insult God can take no pleasure.” Instead when we trust God, he is greatly honoured. (John Piper article); Proverbs reading: “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” Prov. 29:25 MSG

As for memory verse work, I did a pretty good job of memorizing Deuteronomy 31:8 last month (more-than-a-month). This time, I’d love to try memorizing the whole of Psalm 121. It’s one that has come up in our sermon series, “Psalms for the Summer”. There are many Psalms that would be good to memorize… but not all would be so easy!

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He is with you, He is with you

Again, there aren’t many notes in my fearless journal for last month. That’s a good thing, because I’m not really anxious about much these days. Not that there isn’t lots of fear around us though, including violence in the name of being against racism (think George Floyd’s murder). That’s where the verse from May 10th is fitting: “The Lord is my helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 AMP) The oppressor here is not “pestilence”, but “man”.

Again, I made notes on an excellent John Piper article: “But isn’t there something we can give to God that won’t belittle him to the status of beneficiary? Yes. Our anxieties. Our needs. Our cries for power to do his will. It’s a command: “[Cast] all your anxieties on him” (1 Peter 5:7). God will gladly receive anything from us that shows our dependence and his all-sufficiency. Christianity is fundamentally convalescence. Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions and therapy. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor’s therapeutic regimen, not our Employer’s job description.” It reminds me of how people used to belittle “religion”, saying it’s nothing but a crutch. My idea: if you don’t think you need a crutch now, you will someday, oh you will.

The other notes from the fearless journal are from another very excellent article, that was shared on The Met women’s page. Very wise, very timely, and so nice and short with all that! It was written by a Christian counsellor (Ed Welch), A Checklist for Your Fears and Anxieties. He says that we should realize that we will be anxious (and he includes my last month’s memory verse Luke 12:32), and that when Jesus says “Don’t be anxious”, it is NOT a command, but an invitation. (Like I’ve often said, it can be a tool, because every time we worry, we pray about it.) Mr. Welch reminds us how God wants us to pour out our hearts to him, being honest and personal.

He suggests that we employ something to remind ourselves that God is with us (how beautifully it was repeated in that song, The Blessing); for example, Psalm 121 (I’ll have to check that out). Then we need to remember how God supplies enough for today, like the manna in the wilderness; and that we can ask him to grow our faith.

Because I’ve been reading some wonderful Biblical fiction based in the Old Testament books, those verses are currently appealing to me (for the next memory verse), like the reminder in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” It’s hard to choose between that verse, or one I’ve just come across in re-reading a previous post, which is only a few verses down, verse 8: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

So that will be a separate job from posting–deciding on the next memory verse… one of the two above, or perhaps something from Psalm 121.

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Five Reasons to be Fearless

Seems like I kind of skipped April, for the One Word post. In fact, there are only two entries in the “fearless” journal, the last two entries made (April 9th, and 22nd). Guess I’ve just been too busy enjoying Easter decorations (and treats!) and now Spring decorations, and heavenly fragranced hyacinths, etc.

But I do want to make notes from that last entry, which refers to a John Piper devotional which was so good, “Five Reasons to be Fearless“. And he didn’t even know that was my One Word! :D In fact, I believe this was also written before-virus… yes, at the bottom it says what book it’s from: “Magnifying God with Money”. (I guess trusting God about money might also have something to do with being fearless.)

Anyway, the verse he’s using here is “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) In this article, he emphasizes each word/phrase separately. (SELF: remember to do this more often with scripture verses!) The reason to be fearless is because it will magnify five great things about God (and who doesn’t want to magnify God):

  • He is our Shepherd. “Fear not, little flock“; and “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want”, or, I shall not lack anything I truly need. protection, provision
  • He is our Father; “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. “He really cares and really knows what you need and will work for you to be sure that you have what you need.” love, tenderness, authority, provision, guidance
  • He is our King; “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He can do that because he is the King. power, sovereignty, wealth
  • He is free and generous, he gives the kingdom. “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He doesn’t rent or sell it, and he doesn’t need our payments–he is wealthy.
  • He wants to do it, to give it to us; “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

“So, the point of this verse is that we should treasure God as our Shepherd and Father and King who is generous and happy to give us the kingdom of God — to give us heaven, to give us eternal life and joy, and everything we need to get there.

If we treasure God in this way, we will be fearless and God will be worshiped.”

I was thinking of using Luke 12:32 for my memory verse this month, but… I think I already have it memorized!

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Yeah, third post in just a few days, wow. But there’s a really neat poem that I just have to get in here. It was written by Mariangela Gualtieri (Italian?), an accomplished poet I think; and was translated to English… but it sure hasn’t lost much in the translation.

Title: “March the Ninth Twenty Twenty”

I’m telling you this
we needed to stop.
We knew. We all felt it
that it was too furious,
our frenzy. Being inside of things.
Outside of our selves.
Squeeze every hour – make it yield.

We needed to stop
and we couldn’t.
We needed to do it together.
Slow down the race.
But we couldn’t.
There was no human force
that could hold us back.

And since this
was for all of us a tacit wish
like an unconscious will –
perhaps our species has obeyed
loosened the bonds that protect
our seed. Opened
the innermost cracks
and let it in.
Perhaps this is why there was a leap
in the species – from the bat to us.
Something in us wanted to be opened.
Perhaps, I don’t know.

Now we are at home.

It is extraordinary what is happening.
And there is gold, I believe, in this strange time.
Perhaps there are gifts.
Nuggets of gold for us. If we help one another.
There is a very strong call
of the species now and as a species
we must each see ourselves. A common fate
holds us here. We knew it. But not well enough.
Either all of us, or no one.

The earth is powerful. Truly alive
I feel it thinking a thought
that we do not know.
And with what’s happening now? Let us consider
whether the earth is not what’s moving.
Whether the law that rules
the entire universe, whether what’s happening, I wonder,
isn’t the full expression of that law
that governs us too – just like
every star – every particle of the cosmos.

Whether the dark matter was this
being bound together in an ardor
for life, with the sweep of death that comes
to rebalance every species.
Keep it within its dimensions, in its place,
going in the right direction. It is not us
who made heaven.

An imposing voice, without words
tells us to stay home now, like children
who are in trouble and don’t know why,
and won’t get kisses, won’t be hugged.
Each within a suspension
that takes us back, perhaps to the slowness
of ancient ancestors, of mothers.

Look more at the sky,
daub a dead man ochre. Bake bread
for the first time. Look intently at a face. Sing
a child softly to sleep. For the first time
hold someone else’s hand tight
feel the strength of the agreement. That we are together.
A single organism. The whole species
we carry within us. We are saving it inside us.

To that grasp of a palm
in another person’s palm
to that simple act that we are now forbidden –
we will return with expanded awareness.
We’ll be here, more attentive, I think. Our hand
will be more delicate in the doing of life.
Now that we know how sad it is
to stand one meter apart.
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our refuge and strength

Now to do the “fearless” thing again… #myonewordFearless. I didn’t make as many notes this time, distracted I guess!

Here are the scripture verses:

  • “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” (Matthew 10:28)
  • “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • “Do not, therefore, fling away your [fearless] confidence, for it has a glorious and great reward. >For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:35, 36)
  • “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6–7) >> ONE sentence, meaning PRIDE is the cause of anxiety… not wanting to admit we need help (from Piper)
  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, and the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
  • “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” (Psalm 96:1-6)
  • “When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God’s word I trust.” (Psalm 56:3-4)
  • “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Lots of verses, in several different versions! I tried not to duplicate any, from previous months. Here are the quotes:

  • “Give me grace to see Beyond this moment here. To believe that there is nothing left to fear…” (song, The Greatness of our God)
  • “Not one of us knows for sure that we have what it takes to deal with what will happen to us a few days from now—or even a few minutes from now… All we have is what’s sufficient for this moment. With that knowledge, we can relax, relying on the effectiveness of our Shepherd to provide whatever we need in the future.” (Ray Vander Laan, “Echoes of His Presence”
  • “God works salvation as his people live by faith in fearful times” (Pastor Jonathan); He causes fearful times in order for people to see his power, and their faith to grow; not in spite of circumstances, but through them (we see this repeated in stories of the Bible)–sermon notes

And that’s it! Now to decide which verse to memorize.

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just a memory

It seems like forever since I wrote that last post, with only a small mention at the end, of the coronavirus. Now, there is absolutely nothing else that anyone ever talks about. Except what they’re doing to cope.

In my memory, it all started at the beginning of the year, hearing about China throwing up hospitals out of nowhere; and then our hearts going out to Italy’s doctors, frantically going on about the “explosion” of people to treat, trying to warn us.

Then we hoped Sam wouldn’t have to go to that much-looked-forward-to conference in Anaheim. (He didn’t, only 400 attended out of hundreds of thousands that usually go.) He had to go to Toronto first… and ended up coming home a day early because his office building was closed down. As we sat in the restaurant for a late supper that night after picking him up at the train station, we saw that team after team of major league sports were closing down. A couple of days later, that restaurant (along with many others) closed.

It really seemed like a sickness for well-off people at first, getting those who travel, those who could afford to go on a cruise, diplomats, etc.

And now it’s a sickness that has awakened our respect for the not-so-well off–the grocery workers, delivery people, etc. Today on my walk I came across a “gift bag” left out for the garbage collectors “1 treat for now, 1 treat for later, drawings from the kids, etc…. Thank you for all you do etc. ”

All kinds of people are coming up with all kinds of ways to be kind. We suddenly realize how much we love our senior citizens.

And then there are those who yell. They whine because the cashiers aren’t smiling, or scream because someone isn’t staying 6 feet away. The real test is being forgiving of those people. They’re scared. They don’t have the confidence that you do, about there being more to life than this life.

It may take a very long time… no, it will take a very long time, but someday, this will all be only a memory.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

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Fly Away

After last month’s post, I wrote this in my fearless journal:

So looking up the verse about God giving us “not a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”—apparently it’s KJV! And my favourite versions talk about “self-control” or “discipline”… I like both “sound mind” and “self-control”, but what does self-control have to do with fear? And why do I think these mysteries hold some hidden treasure that if I could uncover it, would be the answer to a long-fought problem! EDIT: Amplified clears it up: “…of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”

Yes, that’s the memory verse I chose for last month, though I mostly knew it already. This month will be another easy one, but so perfect for Lent: Romans 8:6 (“If we… live by [? from memory] our desires, we will die. But if we live by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.”)

OK, may as well just copy the rest of my fearless journal here–lots of great scripture again, most of it, in fact… except for a couple of songs, and a “coincidence”:

  • 02.07: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Ps. 4:8) from prayermate
  • 02.07: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) from Galcom stories
  • 02.08: “Be not afraid, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15), from Pinterest
  • 02.09: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6) from prayermate
  • 02.14: “What the wicked fears will come on him; what the righteous desire will be granted. When the storm passes through, the wicked are swept away, but the righteous are an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:24-25) from prayermate proverbs
  • 02.19: Whom Shall I Fear (the God of angel armies) song (from prayermate)
  • 02.19: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV) from prayermate
  • 02.23: It’s a bit scary that on my birthday, there are TWO things that tell me not to worry: Jesus’ words that God will help me deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes (prayermate), and the Piper devotional, saying that when we are persecuted for Jesus’ name, He will supply strength, will especially fill us with His spirit etc….LATER: beautiful song in church, that I claimed for my birthday song, “All my life You have been faithful…” (Goodness of God)
  • 02.26: “Fly Away” book by Lynn A. about lady with fear of witnessing (so good!), she is like Moses saying ‘no’ to God <3 [This book also has the fear of cancer… and today (March 1st) at church we heard of Randy’s cancer.]
  • 02.28: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil…” prayed for Ev.

Beyond that, the fear of that coronavirus is growing. And Sam is supposedly traveling to the States next week.

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Held fast

Feeling very vague on what I wanted to do with my One Word this year (FEARLESS), I simply made note every day that I came across the idea (which was not every day). Now that it’s a new month and time to read over this “fearless journal”, it’s a hard decision to pick and choose over the ideas and discard some or take out the most meaningful for the month. At least for January, I want to keep it all! So, how about some sorting fun? :D

Here are the Bible verses:

  • “And he said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Also, “Let us pray that this year we will ‘always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (see 1 Corinthians 15:58)”, from Operation World. (not properly referenced, sorry)
  • “…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
  • Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?“” (Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)
  • “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) (***This one should go on a photo… or have I done it already??)
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
  • “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10), one of my favourite verses. How is the “name of the Lord” a strong tower? (I know, but don’t think of it): “the name…” refers to His identity, and as I begin to think of God’s identity, I dwell on His wonderful attributes… like His strong love for me, and his ability and desire to look after me; his excellent purposes, etc.

Here are the SONG LYRICS:

–“I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm, my help is on the way…”

–“When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.” From The Met; Term “he will hold me fast” is found in Ps. 139:10 NIV

–“As I walk now through the valley
Let your love rise above every fear
Like the sun shaping the shadow
In my weakness your glory appears” (Beautiful words to song, in Murray’s Musings)

QUOTE: “We have no idea what God has planned for us just beyond our fear, but it will be a life-expanding adventure full of meaning.” (Patsy Clairmont)

As for things to cause fear this past month? Well, beyond fearing for the happiness and (spiritual) well-being of loved ones, consider these (not my fears in particular):

  • fires in Australia
  • discussion about the oceans boiling because of climate change etc.
  • coronavirus! (Which finally seems to be just a little bit less in the news!)

By the way, to speak to my fears for loved ones, God has just encouraged me in my praying for them: the thing I always ask most is for people to read God’s Word, and there was a CLEAR answer to that for one particular person in our small group, last week! Thank you God!

Now, how in the world do I choose from that list of such wonderful scripture verses, for this month’s memory verse?! Maybe I’ll think about it some more… maybe you can guess better than me, which one I’ll choose!

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