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"...We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace." Jeremiah 30:5
"Fear" is spoken of over 500 times in the Bible. So, to me, that signifies it's a topic worth noting.
I believe the 1980's science fiction film, "Bladerunner" makes a powerful statement on fear.
There are various discussions about the story and the complexity of the Roy Batty character in particular. He's often viewed as the villain. But, if we dig deeper, perhaps there's more to the story.
Batty is a kind of futuristic robot who has an expiration date of four years. This tactic is implemented to ensure that, in the event a robot develops troublesome feelings, emotions and agendas, humanity is safeguarded by the possible destruction the robot could cause.
However, Roy Batty has apparently experienced these turbulent human emotions firsthand; hence, he is viewed as that much-feared threat to human beings.
Therefore, the "bladerunner," a robot killer for hire, is assigned the task of destroying him before it's too late.
And, after Batty's rampage and search for knowledge about his existence, he eventually shares his observation on fear.
Fearfully, wonderfully, birthed from a void,
Given sweet gift of existence, of breath,
We bask in miraculous sentience employed
In business of plumbing our mystery's depth.
Carried by hands that encourage, that tote
Our penchant for darting down perilous trails,
Plucked once again from recesses remote,
Beneficent breeze filling prodigal sails,
We channel, in time, a vision proclaimed
While all was potential, nothing was set,
And ride vibrant wave of awareness unchained
Since mystified Mary held Child to her breast.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8,14
Christmas Eve more than 2000 years later, it’s fair to ask, “What happened to ‘peace on earth’?”
War. School shootings. Terrorism. Racism. Death. Families torn apart. An observer might wonder if Silent Night is anything more than a song.
A few years later the baby born that night would teach His friends about a different sort of peace.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
It’s the peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s peace that sustains like the eye of a storm while life’s chaos swirls around it.
…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
This time of year assaults us with the obvious "too much" of the holiday season: red and green, Santas, nativity scenes, silver bells and sensory overload at every turn.
During this season, we also see the abundance of angels. It's almost as much of an association with Christmas as the Baby Savior Himself.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:13-14
Indeed, angels are everywhere throughout Scripture:
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11
"The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity." Matthew 13:41
And he saith unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." John 1:51
Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol is the famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by spirits representing the past, present and future. The novel, while set during the Christmas season, is a story of redemption. It's a wakeup call. It's a lesson on making amends. And it has the Twelve Steps all over the place.
Steps 4-12 heavily involve the "other" of wronged people in our lives, hurt by our destructive choices. They speak to our rebellion of the changed life we need to experience.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
We can get addicted to anything.
I say that to spotlight the trophy's importance. This was recently brought to my attention as I came across a humorous social media post:
"Ironic that every trophy store looks massively unsuccessful…"
The power, the lure, the snare of the trophy…
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. James 3:16
With all of the disordered beliefs and actions I have been mired in, an underlying common denominator existed. It was achievement.
This is a two part article. See: Part One
Therefore, concerning what is being asked of or expected from us, which approach are we seeing from the particular leadership in question?
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity. Titus 2:7
And many will follow after their sensuality, through whom the way of the truth will be maligned. 2 Peter 2:2
This is a two part article. See: Part Two
When someone mentions the term, "spiritual abuse" today, sexual molestation of a child often comes to mind. We have too many accounts of priests, pastors and Sunday school teachers preying on the children in their care. And yes, sadly, that is spiritual abuse.
But this kind of abuse can also take on a more subtle form as well. Its definition hinges on the manipulation of power enforced by a spiritual authority figure, with the abused party feeling helpless and coerced.
Children, of course, spring to mind as the most vulnerable. But the net spreads wider.
And a heartbreaking reality emerges: loving God does not exclude us from being hurt, even in the seemingly Godly setting of church. We are all susceptible when it comes to spiritual abuse.
"...Many spiritual abuse victims find themselves struggling to make decisions, and may even have a hard time disciplining themselves to do basic everyday functions such as getting out of bed and brushing their teeth. For so long, we allowed the group/leader to think for us, formulate our opinions for us, and make decisions for us. No wonder so many of us struggle for many years learning how to find ourselves again after leaving a spiritually abusive situation..."
"Spiritual Identity Crisis?" www.churchabuse.com
Used with permission.
This time of year is all about the "too much." There's too much food, too much temptation, too much decoration, too much noise, too much spending and too much stress. Anything which is already an existing reality, this time of year, is seemingly placed on steroids.
Ho. Ho. Ho. Jolly times.
A few years ago, an interior designer appeared on a morning talk show. She was there to offer helpful holiday décor tips for our homes. So, I was anticipating glitter, pipe cleaners, tinsel and every kitschy decoration known to man. I awaited pointers on how to transform each home into the Las Vegas strip.
So, it surprised me when she had some atypical advice...
He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." Proverbs 19:8
As with most families this time of year, my husband and I commemorate the season with holiday decorations. That décor, however, is threatened by two factors: our cats, Gracie and Glory.
And, it is in this holiday decoration/feline context where I started thinking about the power of negative consequences.
The Book of Proverbs is especially loaded with helpful warnings for particular behaviors. It comes down to wisdom versus foolishness, pride versus humility, willingness to learn versus stubbornly and repeatedly making the same poor choices.
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. Proverbs 19:20
Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
Like it or not, we live in a cause and effect world. Many of us who battle with addiction, disorder and compulsion have already felt certain unpleasant consequences like lost jobs, wrecked relationships, health issues and excruciating moments of embarrassment.