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Monday, July 30, 2012

Training Camp Sunday

Fear Factor

What are you afraid of while at Training Camp this week? You may try to be a tough guy and say, “I’m not afraid of anything!” Others may have the opposite response: “I have so many fears - where do I start?” But let’s be honest. What are some things of which you might be afraid?

  • Getting homesick
  • Not knowing anybody or not making any new friends
  • Getting sick and throwing up
  • Climbing a 50 foot tower
  • Landing hard on the water after Pastor Rockhoff blobs you
  • Getting hit in the head by the biffer when Pastor Burgess is chasing you
  • Making me angry, because, as my daughters will tell you, you won’t like me when I’m angry
  • Going out on the lake with the junior counselors and having your canoe tip over
  • Having Steph make you do push-ups

How many of you have seen the TV show Fear Factor? In the show, the contestants have to face their fears of bugs or heights or gross things or whatever.

This week, we are going to teach you not to let fear factor into your decisions about life. In our morning devotions we’ll teach you to overcome your fears of bullying, isolation and family break-ups. In our Bible studies, we’ll study whole chapters in the Book of Daniel to teach you not to be afraid of being different or standing up for the truth or Judgment Day. Then we’ll close each night with interactive evening devotions in your cabin with topics about grades, sports, classmates and more.

Throughout the week we’ll reinforce the Fear Factor theme. In order to help us keep Mrs. Rockhoff’s food bill down this year, we are letting you go out into the woods to forage for your own bugs. Then she’ll cook them up for you. A little seasoning on the grasshoppers or white chocolate on the cicadas make them delicious!

We don’t want you to be afraid because fear holds us back from trusting and believing in our God and what He has accomplished for us. Fear paralyzes. Fear breeds despair about the future and doesn’t make the present very fun, either. Fear makes us blind to the blessings we have. And fear makes it difficult, even impossible, to believe that there will be good things to come.

Fear sucks the life out of the soul. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. We worship the risk-free life. Fear, on its own, is not a sin. But fear can certainly and easily lead us into sin. Because fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. We begin to wonder if God’s eyes are shut as ours grow wide. Fear causes a cacophony (commotion) so that we cannot hear God’s voice through the confusion.

Fear never cured a disease. Never saved a marriage. Never created best friends or deepened love or made you enjoy life more. Faith did that!

This kind of fear is not from God. That’s why God’s Word, over and over again, speaks against this kind of debilitating fear.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Jesus reassures: “So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Jesus steps into the storm and announces: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

Upon hearing the news of the death of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus comforts: “Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:50).

Jesus calms: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1).

Fear may fill the world, but it doesn’t have to fill your heart! Hysteria is not from God. And Jesus doesn’t want you to live there! The promise of Christ is ... God has not given you a spirit of fear!

Jesus doesn’t want you to live in a state of fear. Nor do you. I bet you’ve never made these statements:

  • My phobias put such a spring in my step?
  • Thank God for my pessimism.
  • I’ve been such a better person since I lost hope!
  • My doctor says if I don’t begin fretting, I will lose my health!

Fear may fill our world, but it doesn’t have to fill our hearts. It will always knock on the door—just don’t invite it in for dinner! That place is reserved for Jesus.

That’s why God says in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Don’t let fear factor into your decisions about life. Amen.

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