When Control Is Good

“Control” is a loaded word.  It can evoke a visceral reaction in various individuals, in negative or positive ways.  And as Americans, we cherish our freedom sometimes to the point of demonizing any form of control.  We don’t want people to infringe on our rights, we want to speak freely without consequences and we want to the freedom to make decisions often without the complementary responsibilities.

If we are followers of Jesus, however, there’s an alarming verse that recently arrested my attention: 2Cor 5:14a, “For the love of Christ controls us, . . . ”  When I read this, I tried to find some wiggle room in the Greek for the word “control”.  But alas, I had no luck.  I’m supposed to be controlled by Jesus’ love.

So if we identify as a follower of Jesus, this means that His love:

  • influences my conversations to make them edifying rather than snarky
  • priorities my resources to be less selfish & to consider others
  • applauds those random acts of kindness that run contrary to my fleshy instincts
  • filters my thoughts & emotions to remove unforgivness, judgment, condescension, etc

Let’s allow Jesus’ love to be the controlling & defining essential in our lives!

Being Scared

I pride myself in not being scared. I’m not scared to: 

  • try new things, 
  • go new places, 
  • try different foods, 
  • fail during a learning experience 
  • stand alongside someone when they go through difficult seasons. 

As I think about being scared, generally I think of myself as fearless, until I consider various situations that I avoid because I’m intimidated or afraid. I think that all of us wrestle with fear but in different ways. So let’s be honest about the unique fears that are difficult for us. If we aren’t honest about our fears, such fears will often control our decisions because we refuse to be honest & face them. 

In general, I want to live a fearless life, but the one fear that I want to nurture & protect is the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom & I need all the wisdom I can get! So having a healthy respect for God is an essential ingredient for letting wisdom flourish in my life. 

Furthermore, remember that perfect love casts out fear 🙂

Pay attention to your fears & keep the ones that cultivate wisdom but challenge / toss the ones which try to control & shrink you!

Be Shallow & Superficial ,)

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The words, “shallow” & “superficial” almost evoke a gagging reflex in me & I’ve been this way for my entire life.  Case in point:  as a 4year old, I preferred Seasame Street, Electric Company & Zoom to Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, because I thought Mr Rogers was juvenile.  I even complained to my parents, “He talks like I’m a child!”  So the idea of being shallow, superfical & juvenile has been repulsive to me for a long time.

Now, however, I kind of like shallow & superficial and here’s why:  the world is too heavy to carry and the challenges I have are too hefty to solve, despite my best thinking, planning, education and efforts.  Even though I like to think deeply, I need to come up for air and be more lite & bright, from time to time.  I remind myself of these guiding principles when I get morose and dark:

  • Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible for God”
  • Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you.”
  • Rom 8:28-29, “All things work together for good to those who love God & who are called according to His purposes.”
  • Ps 25:15, “My eyes are continually on You & You pluck my feet from the net.”
  • Matt 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God & all these things will be added to you.”
  • John 14:16, “I will ask the Father & He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

So let’s stay lite, bright & maybe even a little superficial & shallow!   Feel free to pass this along to someone who might be a little discouraged 🙂

Free Fall

When I was younger & more impulsive, I had a paragliding adventure that seemed kind of scary for lots of reasons. But instead of dropping out of the sky in a gravity plunge, I caught a thermal which shot me straight up like a rocket!  
Sometimes when we agree to follow Jesus, it might initially feel like a free fall, particularly when we relinquish control to Jesus for making decisions. But let me encourage you that no matter what happens around you, following Jesus is merely a free fall for our flesh but a rocket ride for our heart! Good things begin to align when we take the plunge & trust Jesus 🙂

Jesus, take the wheel

For some of us, being in control is kind of important. HA!!!! Who are we kidding?!?!!! Seriously?!?? Many of us have control issues & if you’re exempt from this challenge, then there’s a good chance that you know a few “control” impaired people. Here are some indications that you might have a little bit of a struggle with the control topic:
*if you’re not in charge, you don’t participate
*your idea of teamwork is when everyone does what you tell them to do
*obsessive is only a frame of mind & not a possible reality (this is called denial)
*meticulous is your best friend
*you struggle when someone doesn’t get it “right”
*sometimes “excellence” is a euphemism for control, sometimes

Let’s let Jesus take the wheel & be in charge. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, even though it may feel uncomfortable. There’s nothing wrong with imperfection – it’s called practice. And there’s nothing wrong with letting Jesus be Lord of our daily living 🙂
Jesus take the wheel!

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No Thank You to Fear

Fear isn’t cool. We can all probably remember at least a few times when fear was entirely horrifying. For me, I remember some walks home from school that were terrifying, waking up from a nightmare that virtually paralyzed me & the ever so common fear of not being liked. In our world today, people are afraid of Ebola, ISIS, losing their job, not getting married & lots more.
So let’s you & make a pact to say, “no thank you” to fear & then make the active choices to support that pact:
*be attentive to our decisions that we allow to be controlled by fear
*be aware of conversations that magnify fear – change the subject
*watch for places in our lives where we are cozy with fear
*actively choose love over fear because they are mutually exclusive (perfect love casts out fear)
*forward this to your friends to help grow an anti-fear mob!!

overcoming fear

A very nice friend asked me today about overcoming fear & I felt encouraged that I should write about this today 🙂

In relation to fear, there are lots of things that could trouble us:  fear of failure, fear of getting hurt, fear of something from the past, fear of falling down, fear of the future, fear of relationships, . . . . . .   The Greeks used the term phobia and attached all kinds of things to this word (agrophobia, necrophobia & my personal favorite, snake-o-phobia).

So here are some strategies that could be helpful to overcoming fear:

  • do it scared – I stole this outright from Joyce Meyer;  she’s uber cool!
  • face the fear a little bit at a time rather than to look at the whole thing
  • consider that the devil uses fear to control us & that God created us from the very beginning to have authority, dominion & power
  • catch fear in the early stage so it doesn’t go stupid
  • choose to trust God & reject fear – yes to trust and no to fear
  • keep trying – failing is more like practice if we take out the fear ingredient
  • remember that 1 John says that perfect love casts out fear!

Feel free to add your own advice & pass this along to your fam & friends! 😀

Fear: friend or foe?

Fear is interesting – in the right amounts & toward the right things, it can be really beneficial. On the other hand, fear with the wrong amounts & directed toward the wrong things can be thoroughly toxic & destructive.
Consider this: fear can immunize us from disrespect & irreverence. Fear can keep us from doing dumb things & the Bible speaks of a boat load of benefits from having a fear, respect & reverence for God.

On the negative scale, fear can hinder us from some amazing experiences, adventures & accomplishments. It can also keep us from learning some important lessons. Fear can keep us trapped in the past & cripple us from moving forward. Fear can suffocate healthy relationships & even debilitate constructive growth.
So here’s my conclusion: I don’t want to be afraid of life but I do want to have a healthy reverence for the Creator of life – love life & honor it’s Creator.

the problem with fear

Ok, here’s something to think about for our daily living: fear wears lots of disguises, attempting to influence us more than Jesus.  Indeed, I’ve met people whose lives are unknowingly controlled by fear & this is heart breaking.  Fear masquerades as safety, cooperation, tolerance & many other guises.  I think that if fear were removed from some people’s lives they would fall apart because its the essential beacon by which they make their decisions, form their relationships and control their conversations.  They’ve become so comfortable with fear that its the glue that holds their life together.  The problem is that fear hates to be exposed because once its brought to the light, its weakness is revealed & power diffused.

Consider Saul in 1 Sam 15. From God’s command, he was supposed to entirely obliterate the Amalekites but he didn’t do this.  Instead he waffled on his obedience & when Samuel confronted Saul & pressed the issue, Saul finally admitted, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.”  From this point on, God rejected Saul.  Saul chose fear over obedience – God help us to avoid this trap.  May we forever remain friends with God & enemies with fear.  Let’s never be more comfortable with fear than we are comfortable with God.