Fear is the Beginning…

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Fear has been one of my most-suffered, longest-lived companions over the course of my life. It’s a weight that has made everything more difficult. I feel it so constantly that I am not sure what it feels like to not have it. I would love to know.

(Be warned, my friends who are not believers — this is another post about God. I can’t help it. That’s where my thoughts go. Please do not be offended by what you read. I mean no disrespect to you or your ideas.)

But, as I was unloading the dishwasher (the best ideas come while doing chores it seems), it hit me.
I can be free of fear, and fear is not something God wants me to have. As I stood there, stacking plates, I remembered how the Bible says that the only one anyone should fear is God, because nobody else can mess with, or change, your eternal life or destiny. And, then, my mind remembered how it says in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7). And, then I remembered all of the times some supernatural being (either Jesus or angels) said, “Fear not…” I remember Jesus saying “Peace be with you” and I remember how 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. I puzzled for a few moments over what seems to be an inconsistency. Does God want me to fear or not?

Then it hit me that the verse in Proverbs says that fear of God is the BEGINNING of Wisdom. The BEGINNING. I realized that it is right to be in fear, or in awe of God, and it is wise. It’s wise to recognize his holiness, majesty, mystery, might, power and awesomeness. But then, as you journey on, you see that even though he has ultimate power and authority, his purpose in interacting with us (unless we are being total evil monsters who need scaring) is not to terrify us, but to bring us peace and love.

Now, there are people who should fear (as I alluded to up there ^^).

John 3:19-21 Common English Bible (CEB)

19 “This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20 All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. 21 Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God.”

James 2:19

It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.

But, for people who love God, there is no reason to fear. Faith is what we use to drive it away because we know God has made us his children.

Romans 8:15

You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Remembering all of this gives me peace, re-ignites my faith and helps me stand and face things that would make me tremble otherwise. I was once told, years ago, by a dear lady who worked at my Army Public Affairs Office, that I was the strongest person she knew. I remember being so shocked because I do not feel strong at all. And there is where I realized that God is bigger than my fears, and he shines through me as strong, even when I am feeling so very weak and afraid. I trust that God will continue to do this – and that I will someday feel what it is like to have a day free from the feeling of fear. No matter what I feel, though, I KNOW that I am not a slave to fear. I am God’s child. Fear should be afraid of me.

Do These Politicians REALLY Believe?

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I have been so upset by what I see happening around me in the news, and even more by the responses of people to the tragedies. I’ve argued, raged, cried and begged people to see another view, to consider the feelings of others, to listen, but I feel like it’s useless. Maybe it is. Maybe the only thing that will rescue a people from an oppressive government are laws to make people be decent.

My mind keeps going back to the fact that politicians LOVE to use God in election campaigns. They love God, God loves them and what they stand for, God, God, God. This is a Christian nation they say. It was founded on Christian principles. But, I really do not know what God they are talking about, because so many of their positions look NOTHING like the ones that Jesus espoused while walking the Earth, as recorded in Scripture. It’s almost as if they think Jesus is just too naive when it comes to running things. But, if you are a Christian then aren’t you supposed to believe that Jesus is God? Who better to know how to run things than God? If you believe in God then you realize God has been running things forever.

But, no. They claim God so they can have some sort of “holy” stamp of approval on the terrible, vicious things they believe. They don’t believe in loving enemies, as Jesus taught. They believe in killing them. They don’t believe in turning the other cheek, they believe in the annihilation of all opposition. Forgiveness? They haven’t got a clue what that means. Caring for the poor, the least of these, love for all, that kind of talk just gives them fits. When Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan as an example of who is our neighbor (the ones we are supposed to love like we love ourselves), these “godly” seekers of power choke on their caviar. Jesus taught the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, where Lazarus, the poor man with sores all over him, lays outside of the gates of the rich man’s estate, begging for crumbs. The rich man eats and is satisfied, giving no thought to the suffering poor man outside his gates. After they both die, the poor man is taken to the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man goes to a place of torment. Abraham tells the suffering rich man that he had his good things in mortal life, while Lazarus suffered. Now, Lazarus has comfort, and the rich man is begging for a drip of water. Wonder how that story goes over at some high-powered political prayer breakfasts.

But, no, this is a Christian nation. This nation, which is seriously thinking of electing a man who encourages violence against enemies, talks about destroying even the families of suspected terrorists, wants to kick Muslims out of the country (when I was a stranger, you welcomed me?) just looks the other way and acts as if this politician is somehow holy because he’s Republican.

And, then there is the little (or rather HUGE) problem of racism in this country. How, in our wildest dreams, do we think we can look Jesus in the eye while people of color are being terrorized and killed by police with no repercussions while the white people (the people of privilege and power in this nation) sit back and refuse to even consider that the powerful police forces might be wrong?

I sound angry. Yeah. I am. I suppose I’m angry at myself at the bottom of all of this. I’m angry that for so long I didn’t see how blind and privileged I was. When I’m holding the baby of a black Army colleague and he tells me to be careful who sees me, I am surprised that it would be an issue. He knows better. He lives it day by day. When I hear that another Army friend, a man of darker skin, is heckled and assaulted with beer bottles just for having the audacity to take his Army camera to take pictures at Darlington Speedway, I can’t believe my ears at the tale. Sad thing is, he wasn’t surprised but he was hurt. He had a right to be there, same as anyone else.

And, as I hear story after story from my good friends of color (who, by the way, are not thugs, lowlifes, or disposable) I get angrier and angrier because I am seeing things that they live with daily. And, it is not right. And, what is worse than that is seeing the denial and deflection done by white Americans when faced with even the clearest of facts. This is a racist country. We need to change that. Just because black people are not slaves anymore doesn’t mean they are treated equally. Just because we have a black president doesn’t mean that all racial injustice has disappeared. Far from it. It feels like it has intensified because there has been a black president that people of racist inklings cannot endure.

We are a Christian nation? We were founded on Christian principles? Do you know that many white supremacist groups claim to be Christian? But, this nation was founded on people of white skin proclaiming they are godly, while all the while enslaving, brutalizing, and destroying the lives of black people and natives. People used the Bible to justify that slavery, in spite of the fact that Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. Our forefathers must have really HATED themselves based on their treatment of non-white folks as they built their empires on the sweat, blood and tears of oppressed people.

This country has never looked like the kingdom of heaven that we, who are Christians, pray about constantly – “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” So, in heaven, we’re going to have racism? In heaven, we are going to kill people we fear? In heaven, it’s okay to rob the poor and get richer and richer, ignoring the cries of the needy? Hmmmm. That’s not my idea of heaven. So, when are we going to start being an answer to the prayers we pray – because as it is, our words are empty and meaningless.

Perhaps it is time for people to just admit that they don’t really think Jesus had such great ideas after all. Or, maybe, hopefully, they can actually think about what it means to live in step with Christ’s teachings in the real world. I believe Jesus was the ultimate authority and expert on how a government should be run, and I think the world would be better if we followed those teachings. As it is now, I would much rather spend time and put faith in people who are atheists and who live the teachings of Jesus anyway by their service to others and their common decency, than I want to spend time with people who claim Jesus with their lips but deny him with their lives.

If you’re a Christian, then act like it. Vote like it. Live in step with Christ’s teachings. Otherwise, maybe you need to examine your lives – because when I think of anti-Christ, this is what comes to mind – those who claim Jesus, but live completely opposite of what Jesus stands for. I’ve had enough of that stuff. How about you?