The Fear of Failure

Who really wants to talk about failure? A recent article reported the phrase “fear of failure” as one of the top internet search items, so it appears to be on the mind of many today. Years ago, I experienced a failure “trifecta.”  After nearly 10 years of sweat equity and short-lived successes, my business venture with many investors failed financially.  Despite much prayer and counseling, my marriage of 12 years ended in a difficult and costly custody battle involving our 3 young kids.  My body started to fail as financial and emotional stress coupled with sleep deprivation further diminished my ability to do even simple tasks.  My thoughts became cloudy and my emotions often got the best of me. While it didn’t happen overnight, it all came crashing down in a matter of a few months.  I had been walking with Christ for over 10 years at this point but often found myself fearing failure more than fearing God.  In one of my worst days while I was cycling through deep anger, sadness, and doubt, I was crying out to the Lord and searching His Word for answers when I came across this passage in 1 Peter 5:6-10. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren...

THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS (Part 2 of 2)

In the Fall and subsequent redemption of man by the blood of Jesus Christ, the glory of God is maximized, in that His Son now takes center stage to a watching universe. But redemption is in response to our sin, and because God hates sin, it must be expunged from us. The Roman Catholic Church teaches the concept of Purgatory, a place after death and before heaven in which one’s sins are purged before entering eternity. The concept of purging our sins seems biblical but the time and place for this is extra-biblical. The time and place for the purging of our sins is not after death and in Purgatory but now and on earth. Our fallen world is the best of all possible worlds, not to maximize human happiness, but to purge us of our sins. Recall Revelation 22:11: “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” Something important is permanently fixed in us at the time of our death. If this does not strike terror in us, then we have not understood. If this is the God-ordained purpose for our lives on earth, the question then is, am I taking full advantage of it? Do I have the same sense of urgency and single-mindedness about the purgation of my sins as I do for—well, you fill in the blank? Only the Holy Spirit can kill my sin, but He does so for the obedient, who consciously strive...

THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS (Part 1 of 2)

The world is collectively waging war against God. We neither like the way He made us nor the way He made the world. We feel driven to correct His many mistakes. The rebellion is on, for none can deny the suffering and inequities of life. How can this world be the work of a loving, omnipotent God? In 1710, the renowned Enlightenment figure Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz opined in his Theodicy that our world was not only the handiwork of God, but the “best of all possible worlds.” He was a serious and brilliant Christian, having invented calculus contemporaneously but independently of Newton. Some believe that he was the last “universal genius,” possessing all the knowledge in the world. But few have shared his opinion. In fact, Voltaire, shocked by the 1755 great earthquake of Lisbon that killed 60,000 people, disagreed so vehemently that in Candide, he placed this quote in the mouth of a fool. Most today would agree with Voltaire. But might Leibnitz be right? Recall a point made by C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain that if God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful, then how can He fail to produce a perfect creation? Even the introduction of sin into the world should be unable to disrupt His plans. He said this despite having survived the horrors of the trenches of World War I.  But even if we concede this powerful and difficult to refute point, still ours does not feel like the best world possible. We must be missing something. I suggest that something is purpose. To answer the question of whether this is the best...

The Loneliness of Christ

Mother Theresa once said:  “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” In the words of Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer, “the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.” Many people experience loneliness. Sometimes that loneliness is overpowering. Who understands? Our Lord understands because He, too, experienced deep, soul-shaking loneliness. Author Dan Brown said: “the worst kind of loneliness in the world is the isolation that comes from being misunderstood.” Few people understood the ministry of Jesus Christ during His lifetime. Probably the only ones who had some understanding of His purpose were his mother, his father, John the Baptist and his relatives Zacharias and Elizabeth (the aged parents of John the Baptist). But Zacharias, Elizabeth, Joseph, and John the Baptist were all dead by the time Jesus began His public ministry. His community did not understand Him.  Most of the Jewish leaders, who should have rejoiced at His arrival, considered him a bastard. They said to Jesus, we “were not born of sexual immorality.” John 8:41  By such hateful words they were saying that Jesus was either a bastard or He was the product of sexual immorality. The temple guards hunted him down at night like a common criminal. The Sanhedrin was so eager to condemn Him to death that they procured knowingly false witnesses to testify against Him. Finally, when Jesus boldly announced that He is the Messiah, the high priest tore his robes in fury and pronounced the death sentence. Pontius Pilate did not understand Him, considering Jesus as just a pitiful itinerant...

Prayer Day?

I recently went to a local outdoor park with some men and had a half day of prayer on a Saturday morning.  We met at 7:30, had coffee and bagels, enjoyed some fellowship and received the instructions for our morning.   We used a prayer guide called “Making Time for Prayer” which can be purchased at MIMbooks.com. Before going into the time, I had rehearsed the issues, “the what” that I was going to bring up before God.  Relationships, my to-do list and schedule, health, finances and other complaints—the normal typical issues most of us carry around.  I know I needed this time as it had been awhile since I spent three-plus uninterrupted hours with Him.  I related to David in Psalm 25:27, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged.” Interesting, I found my issues were grown large by my lack of perspective.  I didn’t realize this until well into the time—that I had a perspective problem.  My view of the issues were enlarged because it had been too long since I took extended time with Jesus.   I also didn’t realize how much I needed this extended time with Him until afterward. Most of the time was quiet/listening time and waiting on God.  The prayer guide did the work of maneuvering me through my issues, the appropriate scriptures and doing my business with Him. And this is what I discovered:  I was missing the target.  The target was not the “whats”  that I was wanting to be solved but the “Who” that needed to be addressed. Jeremiah writes: “If you return, then I will restore you—before Me you will stand;...

Death and Hope

We have a hope to live; a hope for life and a hope to never experience death.  We loath the thought of death. Death is the ultimate enemy of hope.  Death is final.  It extinguishes hope.  In death, hope ceases. Death, its process and the inevitable coming experience on the other side of death is out of our control. Perhaps that is why we tend to shy away from discussing death. And we are aware that it extinguishes our hope. But does it? For sure, death seems to end our temporal hopes.  All of it ends and eventually burns.  However, we are encouraged to migrate to and embrace an eternal hope, one that transcends the temporal, that which we see. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Accordingly, in properly understanding death, the outcome results in hope. For in the case of physical death, which is guaranteed, as our soul lives on into eternity, our physical bodies get replaced by new ones. 1Corinthians 15:38: “But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.” So Glory to God, the suffering in the decay of our current bodies...