Shaking In Our Shoes!

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What are you afraid of?

I could make a list of my own fears, but I’m afraid of how long it might be.:-)

Somedays I’m literally shaking in my shoes, but much of the time I think I’m being affected by fear and don’t even realize it.

I did some research and came across these great stats from http://www.statisticbrain.com/fear-phobia-statistics/

1. Did you know that 60% of the things we fear will never actually take place?

“What if Bird Flu becomes a pandemic and kills us all?” or  “What if I accidentally cuss in the middle of my sermon?”

From the serious to the silly, we spend too much energy obsessing on “what if’s” that never transpire.

2. 30% of the things we fear are things that already happened and can’t be changed.

“I can’t get the moment of the car accident out of my head” or “I remember that day I slept through my final exam!”

It just goes to show how tangible and sticky fear can be.  For some strange reason, we can’t always let go of it, even when we ought to feel free to move on.

3. 88% of the health-related things we fear will never come to pass.

“I hope I don’t have a stroke” or “When I get older, will I lose all my teeth?”

Instead of living a healthy life now, some of us worry too much about what might happen, then.

4. 90% of the things we fear are considered to be insignificant issues.

“What if I forget so-and-so’s name?”  or “What if I’m 5 minutes late to class?”

These are the kinds of fears that we won’t even remember tomorrow, let alone a year from now.  And still, we give them so much attention.

So what is to be done?

I can think of three things that can effectively KILL fear: LOVE, FAITH, and ADVENTURE.

Love is palpable and powerful.  Instead of dwelling on fear, dwell on the names of your children or your partner.  Show love to a stranger.  The more you practice love, the less room there is in your heart for fear.

Faith is strong and directional.  Instead of shrinking in terror, step out in faith!  Go where Jesus would go!  Do what Jesus would do! The more you practice faith, the less room there is in your soul for fear.

Adventure is risky and hopeful.  Embark on a holy quest! Explore!  Undertake something meaningful and hazardous, and find your true focus again, as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The more you practice Adventure, the more the rewards to your whole being, and fear becomes an afterthought.

The next time you notice fear rearing its ugly head with something,

stop shaking in your shoes…

and give fear the boot.

Have a good week,

Mitch

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So, are you a Hulk?

So, are you a HULK?

“Mr. Mcgee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” – David Banner AKA The Incredible Hulk

And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’  – Jonah 4:4

I knew a guy, back in the day.

He was a nice enough guy, popular for a 4th grader, good looking, well behaved. We were almost friends.

But when we would play football on the playground, he became a different person. He would begin to scream in rage.  He would stand up tall and flex his muscles, seeming to double in size. Veins would throb in his head. His shirt would rip at the seams. He would tackle unsuspecting opponents with a vicious satisfaction. You could see the adrenaline transforming him into a monster.

After every game it would take him a good fifteen minutes to calm down and return to his mild-mannered self. It got to the point where the other guys didn’t want to play with him anymore.

I talked to him about it once. I said, “you get so angry when you’re playing games. It’s like you’re out of control”.

He nodded reluctantly. “I know. I think there’s something wrong with me.”

No, he didn’t turn green, but in just about every other measurable way, he was our playground’s Incredible Hulk.

I know, I know, the Incredible Hulk is a superhero. A good guy. But not for this devotion. See, there are lots of Hulks out there, and more often than not, Hulks Smash through life in an unhealthy way.

Do you know any Hulks? Contrary to what comic books and TV has taught us, Hulks come in all shapes and sizes (and colors). The one thing all Hulks have in common is that, no matter how they appear on the outside, there’s a ticking time-bomb of anger inside, just waiting to go off.

You may have one at your office. You may have one in your family. You may be married to one.

You may be one, yourself.

Anger is one of the hardest emotions for us to control. I liken it to rocket fuel. Powerful, explosive, dangerous when it’s unfocused. While it is possible to channel your anger into something productive, there are millions of people in our society who never learned how to do that.

 

A surprising example from the Bible is the prophet Jonah. God sent him to Nineveh on a mission of mercy, but Jonah exploded back in a barely concealed rage. He was angry at the people of this foreign city, whom he believed should be destroyed. He was angry at God, whom he believed was being too easy on these people.

If Jonah had his way, he would have turned into the Jolly Green Giant and stomped the city to the ground. His uncontrolled anger kept him from listening to reason, and listening to God.

Some of you know all too well the danger that comes from living in close proximity to a Hulk. Some days may be good days, and other days may be nightmares. Domestic violence, dating violence, and bullying are all examples of out-of-control Hulk behavior. If you feel trapped in a situation involving a Hulk, please know that God wants more than that for you  (and them). Make sure you are safe, and talk to a pastor or a counselor.

Others of us come across Hulks in traffic, in lines at the DMV, and quite often at the ball game (especially if there’s beer involved). My advice? Walk away. Hulks tend to deflate if there’s no one around to get their blood pumping.

And if YOU are the Hulk, ready to explode with rage, even when you do your best to avoid it, know this: There is nothing about your great anger that makes you incredible. In reality, it’s a detriment to the grace-filled life God has called you to live.

It’s probably time to get some help,

And a new shirt.

Have a Banner Week,

Mitch

 

 

previously posted in 2011

This Bible Belongs To:

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I have inherited another Bible.

At our 11am Sunday service, we have a basket with free bibles for people to take.

One Sunday after church a young woman, an awkward, occasional attender, brought up one of these Bibles and a pen.

“Can you sign my Bible for me?”,  she asked.

I wasn’t sure what to do.  Was this like an autograph situation?  That would be kind of weird.

Would signing this Bible make it feel like I wrote it?

Still, this struggling parishioner wanted my name in her Bible, and so I opened the front page and wrote:  Pastor Mitch Todd.  Who knows?  Maybe it will help her remember who her pastor was.

She thanked me and headed towards the door.

– – –

Somehow, In the twenty feet between where we were standing and the exit, she must have misplaced her new Bible.  Because on Monday morning, guess what was in my office mailbox?

Yep.

Somebody found the book, had looked inside for a name, and there was mine.

I couldn’t think of anything to do except to keep it.

That was several weeks ago, and I haven’t seen the young woman again.

I already have a good 15 Bibles.  I didn’t think I needed another one, but apparently I do.

– – –

This Bible is sitting on my desk right now.  I decided to consider it a gift from a parishioner.

I pray for her when I hold it.  She’s had a very difficult life.

I flip open the front page, and right beneath my name, I write hers.

There.  This book belongs to both of us now.

It’s here whenever she needs it.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Easter People, Raise Your Eyebrows

Easter-2-500x250Happy Easter!

It’s a week and a half after Easter. How do you feel?

Did you leap from your bed this morning like a bunny? Are your hard-boiled eggs still all the colors of the rainbow?

Most importantly, did you feel like an Easter people?

A week and a half is not a very long time but in that span many of us have forgotten that Easter ever happened. Oh, we will still remember that Easter happened, in history, but we tend to forget that it happened to us.

I don’t know about you but many times it’s only after the fact that I begin to understand how important something is. The deep meaning of a conversation. The symbolism of a book or movie. That’s how it should be with Easter, too.

That certainly is how it would’ve been for the disciples, understanding more and more what this miraculous event meant for themselves and for the world. It would take a good 10 days just to get over the drama and shock of it all!

I could go so far as to say that if you and I aren’t pondering the miracle of Easter here and now, then we may have reduced it to a spectacular encounter with ham and pie, jellybeans and chocolate.

You and I know it’s more than that.

Easter people, raise your eyebrows. Ponder what it means that Christ is come back from the dead, and into your life. Reflect upon how your life is different. It is, isn’t it?

If you’re not sure, don’t stop reflecting until the stone has been rolled away from your heart.

Go on…

Hop to it!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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