The Heart of Fear

I think the scriptures can be absolutely hilarious (please hold your stones and let me explain). In the Gospel accounts, the life of Jesus is so vividly portrayed, and as you read, you come face to face with the God man and stand in complete awe and wonder. What cracks me up at times is the disciples: one, because they are walking with Jesus and yet they say and do some of the funniest things; and two, I often see myself in their responses to Christ, which leaves me then to laugh at myself.

One account that I think of is found in Matthew 8:23-27 where Jesus calms the raging sea. The disciples have been following Jesus long enough to see His great power and attributes that testify of His divinity. Christ has been healing the sick and demonstrating His authority, and yet when we make it to this point on the sea, the disciples STILL don’t seem to grasp whom they are with, which is too comical. They become crippled by fear upon seeing the storm and respond in unbelief rather than faith.

This is the heart of fear: unbelief. Fear looks at the inadequacies in self and draws the conclusion that our personal lack calls for us to not react. This is something we can all relate to, seeing that we are weak and needy sinners and at times refuse to act in faith simply because we are afraid and know we are unfit. Here is where we miss the mark: we allow our insufficiency to blind us to God’s perfect character. If the disciples would have just believed Jesus for who He said He was, they would have responded with a steadfast faith instead of responding in panic and distrust. They would see their weakness and instead of panicking and being self-reliant, they would see the opportunity to humble their anxious hearts before Christ and simply cry for help.

It’s so easy to look at these biblical accounts and see the disciples’ responses and not see how, today, we respond in the very same way. We have experienced God in salvation and know His Word and have tried Him time and time again, yet we still fear and doubt His character in times of trouble. Let’s learn to fight our fears with faith—faith in Christ. Faith in His promises revealed in the Scriptures, faith in His finished work on the cross, and faith in God’s perfect love. This is the love that boldly and intentionally says “I have chosen you and I will be with you forever”; this is the love that casts out all fear. When we realize that nothing can separate us from God’s love, what should we fear? He alone will remain faithful; He alone will be my anchor and will continue to remain.

God’s Mission, Our Mission

Although the basic definition of the word “mission” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is simply “a task or job that someone is given to do,” we typically reserve the word for more than taking out the trash or giving the kids a bath. In the secular world, the term is primarily used for important, newsworthy tasks, such as military missions or space program missions. Most of us don’t regularly think of ourselves as being part of a mission; instead, we watch or read about others who have been, or are part of, important history-making missions.

If you are a regenerated son or daughter of the King of creation (a.k.a. a Christian), however, we need to renew our minds on this point. Every man, woman, or child who has placed faith in Jesus has been placed smack down in the middle of the longest-running, most costly, and most significant mission in history. And you and I are not just bystanders of this mission, we are crucial members of it.

What is this mission? In truth, it is one big mission comprised of millions of smaller missions. The one big mission is God’s own mission: to glorify God throughout the universe (Ps.106:7-8; Ez.36:22-23; Hab.2:14; Rom.11:36; Eph.1:3-14). The smaller missions are the various ways we glorify God in our individual lives (Matt.5:16; 1 Cor.10:31). Every war consists of battles, and every battle consists of small missions; therefore, the great mission to win a war depends upon the success of the smaller missions. In the same way, our great mission to glorify God is worked out primarily in the smaller missions He gives us every day.

The hard part for us, it seems, is to keep the great mission before us—in our minds and in our hearts—at all times. We are so easily distracted away from the mission by the busyness, or even the routineness, of our lives that we forget about our main mission. We try to go about the smaller missions without the larger mission in sight, and we sink into despondency and legalism.

What we need is to make a point of waking up every morning reminding ourselves of the great mission we are on, and go about our day recognizing the importance of every small mission we are given. We need to recognize that we can choose to glorify God by making sure He is our greatest desire; that pleasing Him through our joyful obedience is our meat and drink. We need to ask ourselves if we are actively seeking to love and encourage and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ for the purpose of bringing God glory. Are we practicing kindness, humility, patience, self-control, etc., in the home and in the workplace for the purpose of bringing God glory? Are we preaching and teaching for the purpose of bring God glory? Are we evangelizing the lost and giving to/sending/going as missionaries for the purpose of bringing God glory? Are we praying, ultimately, for the purpose of bringing God glory?

If you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are on a mission, the one great cosmic and eternal mission. And don’t forget, if you are on this mission, God has given you everything you need to accomplish the smaller missions He gives you (2 Pet.1:3).



Andy Lack serves as our Pastor of Missions. He is married to Sara and the father of two energetic boys.

Freedom and Faith

The phrase freedom, as it relates to faith, is a colloquial expression that I have found integral to my being a believer. A case in point: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1). This verse clearly illustrates this point. Though I am free in Christ, faith was an underlying condition by which freedom is manifested in my life on a consistent basis. In other words, without faith in Christ the freedom afforded to me through Him would not be an actuality.

Another parallel may be drawn from John 8:36, which states, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” While this biblical passage clearly outlines that one’s source of freedom is found in Christ, Romans 3:28 further solidifies the point “…that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” In actuality, one may ascertain that freedom in Christ, coupled with justification by faith, is genuinely innate—in that there’s a correlation between the freedom found in Christ and the faith that Christ supplies as one truly embraces Him. Again for me personally, I believe that the phrase freedom, as it relates to faith, is a pragmatic concept in that one is unable to differentiate between the two biblical principles. Needless to say, one must embrace both biblical principles simultaneously in order to acquire a proper perspective concerning freedom as it relates to faith.

Although faith is an intrinsic element of freedom, personally I struggle on a spiritual level to “not turn [my] freedom into an opportunity for the flesh…” (Gal.5:13). This struggle reveals itself occasionally in my resistance to serve others through the love of Christ. To remedy this issue, I have predetermined that I will love others unconditionally by withholding judgment of them and by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in the area of discernment as it pertains to them. By focusing upon the well-being of another, as opposed to myself, it compels me to direct my energies towards that person, thus averting an opportunity for me to indulge in fleshly appetites while simultaneously providing me with an occasion to serve someone else. Here again, faith is an essential component in which freedom in Christ is expressed in an unpretentious manner.

In conclusion, it should be clear that both freedom in Christ, along with faith in Christ, are essential to one another and that differentiating between these two biblical principles is inconceivable. Consequently, freedom as it relates to faith is an intricate expression of these two biblical fundamentals.

Sick Day

It’s always a bummer when someone in the family has to miss church because he or she is sick. It is even more of a bummer when EVERYONE in the family is sick and has to miss. This happened in my family earlier this year. So, instead of doing the usual “sick on the couch and watch movies all day” routine, I announced to my four-year-old daughter that since we couldn’t be at church, we could play church! She loved the idea! Here’s what we did:

  • She told me she was going to be me and I was going to be Pastor Knight.
  • While she gathered her stuffed animals to be a part of our congregation, I gathered some materials for our service: my Bible, one of her storybook Bibles (I highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible), and a music CD.
  • My daughter arranged all of her stuffed animals and got them all “Bibles” (whatever books she had).
  • We read, we prayed, we sang songs, we read a lesson from her Bible, and we even passed around an offering plate. J Then, we sang the closing song that we typically sing at church.

My daughter had a great time, and it was so neat to see her perspective of our Sunday services through this type of role play. I think it is also a great way to get her excited about the things of God! She loves pretend play at this age, and to integrate pretend play with truth is a great way to engage her.

You can make it very simple. There are so many great resources available for teaching children God’s Word (The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Gospel Story Bible are two that we have enjoyed). There are also so many sing-along children’s CDs! We sang “Father Abraham” and used body motions to go along with the song. You don’t have to be a musician or singer! Just play the CD and sing from your heart.

Most importantly, as you are playing with your children and incorporating Christ as part of that play, remember that you are making memories for you and your children and this is part of teaching His words “…when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut.6:7).

Truth Matters

Not long ago, I heard a politician interviewed for her stance on a particular issue. Her position had been criticized by the evangelical voting populace for whatever reason, and she was trying to defend herself as a strong Christian. In so doing, she adamantly stated, “I believe very strongly in my faith.” Well, whether she was a strong Christian or not is beyond the point that ought to be made from this statement. Instead, her statement brings up a sentiment that seems to be pervasive in our culture, and even in the Church; the sentiment that we put our faith in faith. Truth is relegated to the side, or not even considered at all, for many people. After all, what’s true for me may not be true for you. But is this true?

I found myself having to think about this question again when I was talking with a gentleman on an airplane. The issue of good deeds came up, and he was politely acknowledging that my good deeds stem from my faith, but that his good deeds stem from a different faith or philosophy. For him, the point was that as long as the good deed is done, the motivation does not matter. For this man, religion is good insofar as it motivates people to do good. But what was missing from the conversation was “truth.” What is actually true?

Christianity is a religion, or faith, completely wrapped up in truth. If it is not fundamentally and factually true in its claims, it falls apart as worthless dribble. Our faith rests on a true God (Jer.10:10) who gave us a true Word (Ps.19) that can be trusted. And it is the truth of our faith that must motivate us to live holy lives; and it is the truth of our faith that must drive our evangelism. Paul understood this when he wrote the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:3-5) about what was “of first importance…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” For Paul, the Gospel was not about positive thinking or cleverly devised fairy tales—it was about the historical realities of the Gospel. Jesus Christ did indeed come from God to this earth physically during the reign of Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). Jesus Christ did, in fact, live and walk and work and speak among people as a person in the actual regions of Galilee and Samaria and Judea. Jesus was certainly tried by Pontius Pilate and physically executed on a cross outside Jerusalem. Jesus was physically raised from the dead on the third day, and was seen and heard by at least 500 witnesses before He literally ascended into heaven (1 Cor.15:6). This is where our hope rests – on this real person of Jesus. We do not point people to an idea about forgiveness or joy or even, generically, God. We point people to this Man—Who lived and died on this earth, and is coming again as King of Kings. We point people to this person, Son of Man and Son of God, in Whom we find forgiveness and joy and peace and life eternal.

The Restart Button

As human beings, I think we naturally crave new starts; do overs. With each New Year, we look forward to the year ahead, making resolutions in hopes for a better year than the one just past. We set goals, desiring improvement in specific areas. Each morning, in a sense, is a new start for us. God’s mercies are new each morning, and as the dawn breaks, we receive fresh opportunity to live for Christ.

In God’s providence, we sometimes experience major changes in our life that shake us to the core and put us in a position where we feel like we have to start all over again. This happened to me a little over a year ago when my husband left Christianity. In so many ways, it felt like I was starting over again. But, as I have walked this journey, I have realized that though it feels like the restart button was pushed on my life, what really is happening is all a part of the same journey I had already been on. You see, God is using every situation and circumstance in my life, in your life, to shape me, and you, more and more into the image of Christ. Our one “do over” moment as believers was at the point of salvation. It was at that moment that God restarted our lives, so to speak, to turn us radically away from living for ourselves to living for Him.

If you are going through a heart-wrenching experience right now as a believer and are wondering how in the world you will pick up the pieces of your life and begin to build again, let me lovingly tell you that you can’t. As you pray and seek Christ’s face for answers to the questions of why, how, what, and when, He Himself will pick you up and show you that He will use your broken pieces for His glory. We must not make an idol out of our past (wanting “the good old days” back) or our future in this life (coveting something you lust after for your own life). Seek to be a Christian today, and as you do, God will continue the work He started in you. You see a broken life, but He sees a masterpiece in progress, and every circumstance of life is a part of fashioning you into His bride who will one day see Him face to face forever.



A Change Gon’ Come

I love music. Classical, pop, R&B, country, hymns, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, indie folk, you name it. So of course I tuned in to watch the Grammy’s to see all the talented (some more than others) music artists. After watching, I was left with two thoughts. First, how merciful and patient God is in that He continues to grant us life even as we live morally ruined lives and become a God-mocking generation. Secondly, with this cultural shift, what are Christians doing to help change the world for Christ? In my opinion, what takes place in our world as forms of entertainment or any other showcase of art will prove to have the greatest impact on our culture than any form of legislation, because art is an effective persuader. Our world is shifting away from God (surprise, surprise), and as followers of Jesus, we want to spark a lasting change in our culture and see souls saved and lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. But, things seem to either progressively worsen or stay the same—which can be discouraging. As Christians, how do we live for Jesus and reach those in a world that is hostile and constantly changing? Let’s chop it up! (Slang 101—chop up: converse and break it down.)

  1. Stop imitating the world!
    God does not save souls the world’s way. God uses the foolish things to dumbfound the wise and strong. God, in the world’s eyes, is the worst talent scout because the world looks to power, prestige, and material glitz and glam, while God uses the weak, powerless, and feeble to shame them and display His power and glory! Often times the people of God can easily get caught up in being “culturally aware” and reaching the lost in the name of Jesus while compromising the very words of Christ! The church goes as the world goes and adjusts to better appease people rather than remaining faithful to Christ. No change will take place unless we have God’s Word as our foundation. We must stand firm in the faith and let the world be the world and the church be the church. 
  2. Imitate Christ!
    If you have been saved by grace through faith, brought out of darkness into His marvelous light, you now have a high calling, a calling to Christ-likeness. This does not mean perfect obedience or a life of ease, but with the Spirit’s help, it is a daily battle to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow after Jesus. If you want to see change, you must first ask if you have been changed by the power of the Gospel. It’s impossible to imitate someone you know nothing about, so are you growing in the knowledge of Christ, increasing in humility and love for others, striving for holiness, and suffering for the sake of the Gospel? If you want to impact our generation, emulate Jesus. 
  3. Bank on Real Change!
    There will be a day with no more pain, suffering, Sallie Mae (can I get a witness?!), death, broken families, bills, disappointments, midterms, 15-page research papers, and any other effects of the fall you could think of. Jesus will return as the conquering King and reign victoriously forevermore! He will restore all things and we will enjoy God perfectly. As believers, we have a hope that even in the midst of this fallen world, we can await the blessed return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the new heaven and new earth will be our reality. The real change that will come is when all things will be made new and His perfect love will cast out every fear and wipe all the tears from our eyes. So in the words of Sam Cooke, “It has been a long time coming, but I know that a change gon’ come”; so come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Born Again, Born to Shop

Have you ever seen the bumper sticker, “Born Again, Born to Shop”?  When I was first saved, I naively believed that there was some truth to this, but now that I have grown, I’ve come to realize that this common catchphrase is an inaccurate statement.

  • First, being born again is of a divine nature, whereas being born to shop is a personal desire.
  • Second, being born again requires grace, whereas being born to shop may hinder my growth in grace.
  • Last, being born again transformed me in a positive manner, resulting in a changed life, whereas being born to shop may result in a negative impact towards my finances.

At any rate, loving to shop isn’t a bad pastime as long as I am able to keep things in perspective; but it pales in comparison when I realize that loving Jesus infinitely outweighs my appetite to shop.

How does this relate to my faith? My love for Jesus supersedes any love I may possess for shopping, and it never ends. It compels me to be thankful for the blessings He has bestowed upon me, whereas shopping only fuels my desire for more. As the little girl said in the AT&T ad, “We want more, we want more, when we like it, we want more.” But in Jesus, I have found all that I need! Knowing Him and loving Him brings contentment and joy. You may have been born to shop, but the question is, are you born again?


This guest post is from CASM member, Mary Knight.  Mary is the wife of Pastor Marvin Knight and they have two sons: Jordan and Joshua.