Daily Devotions

Uncomfortable Truths

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So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

 

No, this isn’t a review of an Al Gore documentary. It is an interesting challenge by Eric Turner, in his article, “Do it Afraid.” His argument is that “we get caught up in our own comfort somethings…The truth is that if you’re never able to understand that you’re going to have to just do things afraid sometimes, you’ll probably lack growth in certain areas.” The key is learning what is a real fear, and what is just misunderstood emotions of fear. Further, it is important to glean the wisdom necessary to know what is worth the risk.

 

Some actions are worth the risk. Protecting my family is worth the risk. Standing up for my faith is worth the risk. I am sure you can come up with other risks worthy of your attention. Turner argues, the more comfortable we are, the more risk-averse we become. The more risk-averse, the higher our anxiety level. The more we have, the more we have to fear losing. Anxiety becomes our god, controlling our actions, even our entire lives.

 

At one point in my ministry, I was asked to be the Protestant speaker at a Memorial Service for an American Airlines plane that crashed just outside the community where I served as a pastor. As CNN and other media outlets set up for the service, I became very nervous. I knew I had to respond and not become overwhelmed by the moment. I remember saying to myself, “Relax, this isn’t about you!” The acknowledgement that people were listening to me, but the focus was on the grieving loved ones, gave me the confidence to face the cameras.

 In that moment I was able to do what Turner recommends when he states, “Embrace the way that fear motivates you, instead of embracing the way it cripples you.” Since we cannot avoid fear or anxiety entirely, it is vital we learn how to face it, so we do not remain controlled by it.

 

Today, consider the ways we avoid conflict in our lives. Affirm the positives in conflict avoidance. A positive example, is not driving 120 miles per hour down the interstate, because we want to avoid conflict with the police department. Yet, there are also times when a little discomfort is necessary and even important. For example, taking the time to volunteer, when you aren’t sure whether you will be welcomed. Prayerfully ask God to help you discern what should be avoided, and what discomfort should be embraced. This is the way to true happiness and meaning in your life.

 

Renewing a Passionate Faith

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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

For your faith to become even deeper, there must be passion. It is sad when I hear people say they left their church because it was boring or passionless. For an individual or a congregation, the faith we live must include a fair amount of passion. Nick Wignall wrote an interesting article entitled, The Elements of Passion, and he reminds us, “Passion is a strong inclination toward an activity that has these three qualities: 1. It’s something we enjoy. 2. It’s something we value. 3. It’s something we can dedicate ourselves to.”

“Valuing” our faith is something all of us can understand and aspire to affirm. We may not always “value” our faith, but we understand why we should. Likewise, we may not always “dedicate ourselves to” our faith, but again, we understand why we should. The one aspect of a passionate faith that we often fail to value is “enjoyment.” Many individuals and churches seemingly devalue “enjoyment.”  

If we are going to experience more passion in our faith lives, creating even more demands for ourselves will not do the trick. Enjoyment might just be the ticket. Find fun activities that make a difference in people’s lives. These enjoyable activities will be different from person to person. For example, some people enjoy gardening. Our church has a garden that includes over twenty plots for immigrant and refugee families, as well as a few for our church members. While some people find a garden ministry enjoyable, I would find that painful work. I find my fun working with children at a neighborhood elementary school.

It is incumbent upon churches to provide options for people to enjoy their faith. People are responsible for trying different activities, until they find something they enjoy, they value, and is meaningful enough that they are going to dedicate themselves to it. When those three things come together, Voila, a passionate faith!

Today, think about what you enjoy, value, and are willing to dedicate yourself to over the next few months. Look through your church’s newsletter and website. Skim their Facebook page, or talk to a church staff member. Taking the time to pray and plan before you jump into something will help you find your passion, without the feeling that you are just spinning your wheels. When you do this planning, the passion will quickly come back into your life.

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