Fear God and Conquer

Matthew 8:26

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. (v.27) So the men marveled, saying “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

I’m gonna tell you right now: the Sea of Galilee (where this passage took place) isn’t as threatening as I thought it would be. It was pristine, quite beautiful and… rather disappointing.  This is where Peter walks on water, where Jesus calms the storm, where Jesus finds Pete fishing again and asks him three times “Do you love me?” I picture a massive, powerful Sea with raging wind and huge waves. When I ask about this, the boat captain shudders and tells me: “Trust me… you do not want a boat ride when the storms pick up. It’s frightening.” Whatever, dude. I’m praying for a storm. I WANT to see Jesus walking across that water. I WANT to ride a storm out and show God how confident that I am in Him; that I am not one of “little faith”.

"You're going out there?" Pointing across the sea where Jesus did much of His ministry in this area

brothers on the sea of Galilee (I’m not pictured… too busy walking on water!)

Do you hear how stupid I sound? Uh, yeah… I know. At the first drop of rain, I’m the guy under the seats yelling “We’re all gonna die!” Because God sends storms in my life and my reaction is typically LESS then He would hope for. And when I see Jesus walking towards me through those storms and hear Him calling out my name to come join Him, I rarely get out of the boat. I panic more often then not. I cry like the little baby that I am and point my finger at God while saying “You don’t Love me, do you?! Other wise, You wouldn’t make me go through this!” I allow fear to over-run my faith more times then I care to admit.

What is it about fear? What a powerful and dominating force fear can be. It can literally paralyze animals and people alike. I call it the “lock – down” mode because I can feel myself “locking up” every time a storm approaches. “He’s going into lock – down… we better do something quick!”

Fear has no place in the daily walk of the believer unless it is a Fear of God. If I Fear God, that means I have an understanding of God – I have gained knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) In this state of existence, what possible outside forces should I then fear? As Oswald Chambers wrote, it must have been very disappointing to Jesus the lack of confidence these men had in His powers and abilities. They were his friends, the same guys who had witnessed first hand all that Jesus had already done. But what about the disciples? I wonder what they were feeling? How much greater must their pain been once the sting of this rebuke from Jesus hit them with its full force? (O. Chambers Journal; “The Theology of Rest”) Ouch. That’s all I’m saying. We’ve all felt that same pain ourselves. You know the moment. As soon as you’ve said or done a thing that is not so much horribly grievous as it is disheartening to the one it hurts, the one you deeply love and admire. Growing up, I always hated those moments when I had let my dad down much worse then doing actually doing something really bad. I can’t stand the wounded eyes of disappointment, alright?! Like… just yell at me or something but STOP looking at me like that!

My confidence lies in Him. The storm CAN seem frightening – but it’s looking through the storm that reveals who it is that is beyond the storm, over the storm and IN the storm with me. When I don’t believe I can over come some situation, or withstand a certain storm or come through a faith – blazing, fiery trial… I don’t really understand, yet, what it means to believe in Christ. We get this backwards… just as the disciples did. They followed Jesus but they had yet to arrive at the place where they truly believed IN Jesus and His Power. (Proving the scripture that it DOES take more then wonders and miracles to believe) And to be fair, it’s a process that takes going through many fires and surviving a life – time of storms. “I believe Jesus died on the cross – I believe He rose again – I believe in the communion of saints, in the forgiveness of sins, in the the resurrection of the body and life every lasting…” – it is this initial belief that securely saves the “un” believer, allowing him access to the Father through His son, Jesus Christ. Yet, old and new believers alike are faced with the same task from the very moment of their spiritual rebirth: learning to believe that Christ IS who He says He always has been; BELIEVING that He CAN and WILL do all that we claim and say HE can do.  We preach it to the world on Sunday mornings but are we living it out (through storms and sunny days) the other six days of the week? To know God is to Fear God. To Fear God is to understand God. And what we find in this channel of belief IS life… straight from the wisdom of God’s own mouth.

Life is Fear, but we need NOT fear LIFE. God will take me to the breaking point. It is when I finally DO NOT break that my true confidence in Him is displayed. There are things to pray for, pray over and pray about. We are human. I think God knows us well enough to know THAT. If there was no need to pray there would be no need for Him. But He is molding us and growing us in preparation for that day to come, when we permanently abide in Him throughout His reign without fear of anything BUT Him – a day in which we will have a FULL understanding of Him. In the meantime, it gives our Father in Heaven great moments of Joy when we are able to arrive at this place… even if only temporary. I look forward to the day when this place becomes my permanent place of existence. As for now, I’ll keep learning how to arrive at this place more often AND stay awhile longer!

The crisis shows… who I truly rely upon. There’s no room to fear both circumstances AND God. If I DO fear God there’s nothing left TO fear…

Sean Gutteridge – August 19, 2010

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The Greatest Ambition

You begin by telling yourself, “They need this, this can help them, I’m needed over here…” It’s late at night when you are all alone with old music, smelly socks and your private thoughts. It slams home like a wave as suddenly as a rain storm hits from out of the clear blue skies in Colorado or a heavy gust of wind without warning nearly blows you over in Oklahoma: YOU need this. And believe me when I tell you… that’s not a happy thought. It’s frightening and overwhelming and it makes you want to run away and hide.

“All I really need is this thermos…

…that’s ALL I need…”

"I'm King of the..." oh, forget about it.

I Always Wanted To Fly... and be "King of the World!"

Everything I’ve ever wanted in life, well… I never got. I wanted a horse. Not a pony… I wanted a HORSE – that’s all I needed when I was a kid. I also wanted a 1967, 68 or 69 Mustang. I wanted to date the head cheerleader. I wanted be a famous movie star, I wanted to win an Oscar. I wanted to act on Broadway. I wanted more money then I knew what to do with so I’d never have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I wanted my mother to stop drinking and I wanted to be wise like my dad. I wanted to be a great man like my grandfather, whom everyone loved and admired his entire life. I wanted so many things in life. I even wanted to fly – literally, fly, like a bird – and I wanted to matter in life. The hopes and dreams we share get scattered by the winds along with our innocence as dreams and ambitions fade into existence, crushed one by one. Yet, how can ambition be so bad? Is it something man – made or is it a God – given emotion, tangible to touch… something we must tame?

My dad use to tell me I should always seek God with my best and in so doing, try to be the best… that I could possible be. But he also said that only the fool wants to be “The Best”, higher then all others, number one in everybody’s eyes. The problem with being number one is: there’s always a number two right behind you trying to take your place.

Looking back, having my own horse would have sucked. We had no barn and that’s a lot of manure to have to clean up in my room every day. The head cheerleader isn’t half as good – looking as my wife, the published author of seventeen books (and counting). As for acting on Broadway, well, who wants to be surrounded every day by obnoxious Yankees fans? And being a famous actor has it’s problems, too. Just ask Mel and Lindsey. Famous people (especially in Hollywood) tend to be pretty jacked up. Money is money. The more you have the more you want, so in my older age I’ve come to terms that no one ever has enough of the green stuff except farmers. And winning the Oscar… there’s still a twinge there, but really… a gold naked dude on my mantle? Really??  I HAVE flown like a bird on 12 occasions sky – diving (and doubt I’ll get to lucky number 13), my mom has had a really good 24 months without alcohol. And only a life time will tell whether I find wisdom like my father or earn admiration like my grandfather.

There is a greater ambition; one that I’ve only dreamt was reachable for a fall – short kind of guy like me. It is an ambition where being first means putting self last; an ambition as ambiguous as a logical female; an ambition that changes worlds and humbles kings. The question is… do I have the courage to drink from the same cup that this ambition has been poured from?

Christ says in Matthew 20 v.27 that “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your slave.” Jesus came to serve NOT be served. So what is YOUR definition of greatness? Is it serving others? Is it being ridiculed? Does it involve giving your life as a ransom for the sake others? This is the kind of greatness that is attainable. This is a greater ambition that I want to find, a kind of greatness found only within Christ. So many things that I wanted in the past, from my childhood even into today, have come up short and empty and leaving me disappointed. It seems everything I ever truly wanted has been kept from my heart… and yet… I have to wonder if perhaps everything I ever longed for might NOT have been what was best for my heart. Seeing someone you love self – destruct, well, it’s not that it is wrong to want them to be okay. My understanding is not Gods understanding and it is not my place to question the workings of my creator. An alcoholic drinks and destroys families. An infant passes away and devastates young parents. A mad – man unloads a gun stealing the lives of innocent children. A husband watches helplessly a wife stray into the arms of another man. What is lost in each event is the absolute lack of control to the one being hurt and the absolute control of a God who has the power to work all things for good. And all I can do is sit back and allow God to use me in each circumstance. My greatness is defined by the manner in which I trust God in every situation and the willingness of my heart to reach out to those God places upon my heart… regardless of the cost.

Let me be very clear: I am NOT great. But for the first time in my life, there is actually something that I desire that I may be able to finally have… if only I am willing to do whatever it takes to get it. The Great Ambition that I seek is attainable, but I must work as I’ve never worked, love like I’ve never loved and sacrifice all that I’ve never been willing to sacrifice if I am to reach it. No… they certainly don’t need me downtown at the Jesus House. They don’t really need me leading them in worship at Westmoore Community Church each Sunday morning and they sure don’t need me in Ngariam, Uganda. But I certainly need to be there for my own sake. I need them… and I need you more then you need me. And I’m good with that.

Live. Love. Serve. THAT is the motto of the Greatest Ambition through Christ, Jesus that I seek. If I can reach that, I’ll have all I need.

All I really want... is the 67 Mustang and my grandfathers character

Although, I wouldn’t mind having my grandfather’s character… or the 1967 Mustang. Heck… I’d even settle for the ’69…

Peace.

SAG – August 2010