Shaking In Our Shoes!

600px-Expression_of_the_Emotions_Figure_20

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

adventure

Advent Psalm

AdventCnew

Oh Jesus,

I know why you were born 2000 years ago, instead of today.

Things were simpler then.

 

No cell phones distracting conversations.

No media spinning things left or right.

The whole world was just a few hundred miles long.

You came to a world that rejected you, but at least you could get a word in.

 

Oh, we’re just as stubborn, but also fragmented and polarized.

Oh, we still have poverty — we pretend not to see it.

Oh, we still have illnesses — and we still have outcasts.

We still have passion — greatly outweighed by our apathy.

 

 

Oh Jesus,

If you came today I fear your voice would be lost.

Your miracles would be pooh-poohed.

And your leadership would be questioned.

Or maybe what I really fear is that the

IMMORTAL AND LOVE GIVING POWER OF THE UNIVERSE

might not cut it in today’s broken mess.

Which is silly.

Just because I cannot picture a God powerful enough to enter into this world does not make it impossible.

It makes it miraculous.

 

Surprise me, then, God of Advent.

Do your very best.  And I will remain in awe

that some 2000 years after your incarnation

you can work another Christmas miracle

For We. Here. Now.

download

 

DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry

scream

I would like to make a statement.

Two of them, in fact.

#1.  Not changing, because of fear, is bad.
#2.  Changing, because of fear, is equally as bad.

Or, if you’d like to reduce them down even further:  Fear is bad.

I’m somewhat of an anxiety sponge, and I’ll own that.

I can take other people’s fears and allow them to amplify my own.

Because of that, I wish Facebook had a “low anxiety” setting that I could employ, because lately I’ve been hearing a whole lot of fear about The Church:

“Open letters” to the dying Church.

How-to articles to lessen the hemorrhaging of local congregations.

There are some constructive pieces, to be sure, but so much fear!

Fear about statistics.

Fear about schism.  Fear about the future.

I wonder sometimes — do folks know how contagious this stuff is?

People can read this stuff, and despair. (And then for some unexplained reason, click “share”.)

I’d like to join a DO NOT FREAK ME OUT registry.

I’d even take a test to be allowed to sign up:

__ Yes, I know about the general decline of Christianity in the United States.

__ Yes, I know that our churches have to work extra hard to be vital.

__ Yes, I know that our denomination is perilously at odds with itself on the issue of Homosexuality.

There, I’ve checked off all three.  I care very much, and am committed to doing my faithful share.

(Can I get back to Buzzfeed quizzes and pictures of funny cats?)

The truth is, any system that is in a high level of stress will not be fully functional.

So instead retraumatizing ourselves with the considerable challenges we face, let’s take a few deep breaths, praise God who reigns forever, and continue the joyful work of being, and making, Disciples.

Have a great week,

Mitch

412229c8042064d66d0476057d1b9873

Whisper

therapist

The words and images in today’s devotion come from a popular app called “Whisper”.   Whisper is a social networking site where people can anonymously post whatever they want.

There’s plenty of flirting, goofing around, rough language, and immaturity (so be forewarned), but the site seems to actually serve a purpose, too:

This is where people post their real struggles, pains, fears, and confessions.   Things they might not even tell their closest friends.

People write their whisper, and the program automatically chooses a picture background based on the words.  (Sometimes the picture fits better than others)

Here are some of the posts I found that come from within a half-hour radius of my church, but be forewarned — it may hurt your heart to read them.

losingmyfaithnotskinnysinglemomhome

 

 

 

 

steroids needhelp hungry jobeliminated gambling heroin feelempty brokenhearted domesticabuse drunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

depressed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow.  These are things we don’t generally mention during Joys and Concerns, right?

Just knowing that these people live and work within range of my own church makes me ache to reach out to them.  And then it occurs to me:  Who’s to say these people, or people like them, aren’t already a part of my congregation?

The truth is, everybody has pain, and secrets, and plenty of material for “whispers”.

We don’t give voice to our whispers because we’re ashamed of them, or because people wouldn’t understand, or because we don’t want to appear weak, or because we aren’t ready to change.

Maybe we don’t speak our whispers out loud because we’d feel too vulnerable.

So what can we do with our secrets, our fears, and our shames?

Well, that’s why we have covenant groups, and accountability groups, and support groups in the church.  They are places of high trust designed for sharing the deeper stuff.

And there are counselors and therapists and pastors who are willing to listen and help.

And of course, there’s prayer.

Whether they were intended as such or not, I consider posts on Whisper to be prayers.  Surely God hears them.

God hears your prayers, too.

As for Whisper, I think it may provide a place for ministry in the 21st century.  People can actually reply to a person’s whisper, so I’ve responded to a few, offering some encouragement and comfort.

And there are people out there who offer Good News in their whispers.

For every dozen desperate secrets tossed out into cyber space, you’ll find something like this in with the mix:

godislove

 

May you find a place, online or off, where you can whisper.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

 

 

 

Even a Xenophobe’s got to eat.

In Overland Park, KS, there are two stores next to each other along a strip mall.

One is a Korean restaurant, and next to it is a Middle Eastern Market and Cafe.

How about that?  Korea and the Middle East.  Sounds like something off of the nightly news.  Tense situations happening to foreigners in foreign lands.

And yet, here these two places sit, side by side near my own neighborhood, ready to serve.

* * *

Are you familiar with xenophobia?  It’s a human condition, but an irrational one, where people are afraid of people who seem foreign or different from ourselves.

It may be that all of us have some level of xenophobia within us.  Perhaps it’s some evolved protection trait, I don’t know.

Nowadays it may manifest in that brief uncomfortable moment when the person at the checkout stand has a different color skin.  Or maybe the startled reflex you stifle when you realize the two men sitting in your row at church are actually a gay couple.

It may be the instant stereotype you wish wouldn’t come to your mind when you see someone wearing a turban at your airport gate.

This fear of people different from us has caused centuries of war, slavery, hatred, and racism. That’s what fear does, after all.  It devours your common sense and your compassion.

Well I’d like to propose one cure for when Xenophobia starts to eat your lunch:

Eat back.

* * *

Korean_cuisine-Bibimbap-01

This dish is called Bibimbap (pronounced pibimpap).  It’s a stone bowl filled with rice and then topped with fresh vegetables, meat, and an egg.  It all gets mixed up with a spicy sauce.  The version I love is called dolsot Bibimbap.  The stone bowl is heated, and the rice and veggies get sizzling hot. It’s amazing. I ask for extra sauce because I like some heat.

When I sit in this restaurant (Chosun Korean BBQ, if you’re hungry) I do not fear what is foreign to me, I celebrate what is new to me.

* * *

dolma

The Middle Eastern market next door has row after row of unfamiliar items.  Pastry cookies stuffed with dates.  Bottles of blueberry juice.  Fresh pomegranates. Giant freshly braked flatbreads.

I bought a can of dolmas, which are grape leaves stuffed with rice and various seasoning.  I was serving communion the next night, so I bought some fresh pita bread and a bottle of grape juice.  We also purchased some creamy hummus from the cafe.

When I shop in this market (Shahrazad Cafe and Market, if you’re hungry) I do not fear what is foreign to me, I celebrate what is new to me.

* * *

People are always saying the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Could it be true?  Perhaps so, in my case.

But I have found that the more I am hungry for righteousness in this world, the less I am willing to let xenophobia rule the way I live.

Instead, I find myself more willing to try something new…

And try to love someone new.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Shaking In Our Shoes

600px-Expression_of_the_Emotions_Figure_20

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 insignificant,

stop shaking in your shoes…

and give fear the boot.

Have a good week,

Mitch

adventure