“Fear, to me, is really rooted in unbelief,” the eastern Tennessee native said. “We forget God. We forget who’s in control. We forget God is good and He’s also sovereign. We forget God is loving and that there is Someone beyond us. When we forget these things we fear.”
In our humanness (read: desire for control) we can be flooded with concerns, anxieties, and questions about how situations and circumstances will work out, but in God’s grace and forbearance He pours out reminder after reminder in His Word not to fear. Those commands to actively fight anxiety counteract our natural sin-bent instincts to panic, and examples in Scripture of other believers resisting those instincts serve to fuel our own resistance.
Take David in Psalm 56:3, for example:
“When I am afraid,
I put my trust in You.”
“It’s not if we fear, it’s when, because we will,” Trillia said. “So when we fear, where are we going to take that? We’re going to run to the Lord. It’s a battle. It’s something that we have to work at.”
How do we work at that? Trillia said it’s by considering Jesus, who was tempted in every way as we were yet without sin.
“We can, because of this, run to His throne of grace to receive help in our time of need,” she said. “We’re going to need grace in order to fight fear and fight for belief to trust Him for that mustard seed of faith. We have to ask God and receive grace and that help.”
“Fear is something that I have struggled with my entire life and I didn’t really understand it until I became a Christian and realized, ‘Oh wait, this is actually a problem. I am in sin when I’m fearing,'” she said. “What I realized also was that I wasn’t alone. There is so much that we’re wrestling with that I knew this would be a topic that would be helpful for me personally to think through, to write about, to consider, and then for others to think through and prayerfully consider what God’s Word says to us about fear. It was very much personal.”
For the rest of the article, more videos with Trillia, and more free resources, check out the January/February RTM Magazine here.
Why did Jesus experience fear? Why was He afraid? The answer to that comes from discovering the answer to what was He praying for. Why was there “strong crying”? Why were the tears flowing from His eyes? He was praying that the Father might spare Him the death ordained for Him. The writer is referring to the Gethsemane Garden experience. In Matthew 26:38 Jesus is quoted, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Jesus didn’t need nails to be riveted through His hands or feet to die. He could have allowed His grief to run its course, and it would have caused His heart to burst in His chest. This is how sorrowful He was.
Was He sorrowful about the physical pain He was going to endure? Was this the source of His fear? No, for far weaker men have faced death without fear. Weaker men than our Lord have entered into the battlefield with courage and fell in combat. Although, I know that as a man Jesus would not relish the thought of pain, it was not this that brought Him such great sorrow. There’s something else, something much more painful than even the physical sufferings He knew He would endure.
The brow that had once worn the crown of heaven was now furrowed with the sorrow of sin. Eyes that had flashed like fire were now pools of water streaming down His cheeks as He weeps for what He is about to endure. In Luke 22:42, we find again the garden prayer, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me.” What was the cup?
The cup was every sin you and I have sinned or will ever sin. Think of all our iniquities and place them in the cup. I don’t think there are enough cups in all the earth to hold them. And, yet, God bottled them up and placed them in one and from it Jesus would drink every single drop. It was the cup of our chastisement, the cup of our penalty. Surely the physical pangs of death were dreadful, but it was the death of separation from the Father that caused Jesus the greatest distress.
Here’s what He feared—being considered sin and receiving the consequences of our sin, which is separation from the Father.
How do we, rather independent streaked creatures, understand the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son? The best of illustrations serve us nothing in understanding. Whatever love you may have for your spouse or child cannot be compared to the eternal and infinite love each Person of the Godhead has for the other. How could Christ not have feared such a separation? It is like trying to dissect your own being. It is incomprehensible!
Could Jesus so easily go against His nature? No more than a leopard can remove his spots or a man change the color of his skin. It was not in the Christ to want to have any identification with sin. That’s why the writer calls this fear. And, yes, it was a godly fear because it was a fear of sin. It was unnatural for Jesus to embrace sin. The test of obedience for Christ was to do that which was unnatural for Him to do. Everything in His nature told Him to reject sin, to run from it, to rebel against it. Therefore, the test for Christ was, would He be obedient to the Father in submitting to the suffering of sin to redeem sinners? Would the Lord Jesus obey God and do that which was unnatural for Him to do, embrace sin and its consequences?
For the rest of the article, check out the free January/February RTM Magazine here.
The pages of 2016 are sure to contain adventures, love, peace, questions, agony, comfort, and more, all written and orchestrated by a God who in all things plots for our joy.
You are so dear to our hearts, reader friend. We pray for you constantly and ask God to abundantly heap blessings on your life, revealing to you more of the unfathomable depths of His love and staggering beauty as you sojourn this fractured world.
My prayer for you this year is that you would forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead. Covered in grace, press on toward the goal for the prize of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
May 2016 be a year of pressing on.
Though trials should come, press on.
Though victories will be won, press on.
Despite fears and anxieties, persecution and bruised hearts, press on.
This is not a pressing on for the sake of pressing on but because of who we’re pressing into.
Just like in sports, one trains more effectively, efficiently, and wisely when they have a goal. A goal keeps you focused.
Press on to the goal.
Run to the finish line.
Pursue the prize.
Maintain the course.
Strive for His glory.
Fight to the death.
The newest issue of RTM Magazine is filled with articles and resources on facing fears and conquering them. We pray it is an encouragement to your soul and more equipment for your arsenal as you actively pursue the goal of the Gospel: the day when we all, with unveiled face, will behold the glory of the Lord, being fully transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Check out the free January/February RTM Magazine here.
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He is a shepherd, and there is no way you can shepherd from afar. A shepherd should smell like the sheep, because he lives with them.
This camaraderie cannot be achieved by a definition of church that is event or location driven. In other words, if church is mainly and mostly something done on a Sunday morning or evening at a particular address, then togetherness will not be achieved.
The church is to be a community of genuine love. It’s true that Christians have a general affection for other believers but the kind of love that the Apostle Peter commands cannot be developed in a church defined by time and place. In a typical and traditional church, there is no life on life, no sharing of what is important to everyday living, no sense of an authentic burden to care for the needs of each other.
Peter said in 1 Peter 4:8 that we are to love one another with a “fervent love.” He went on to say that it’s the kind of love that will “cover a multitude of sins.” The word fervent tells us something about this love we are to have for one another; it is a kind of love that stretches you. The word Peter used for fervent literally means “to be stretched or extended out.” You and I are to become completely vulnerable as we extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones and love people. Loving this way, we forbear the sins, flaws, and oddities of others. The world notices that we genuinely care for one another and is convicted by the demonstration of fervent, sin-covering love.
As pastors, it is our responsibility to not only teach about this love, its etymology, the number of times it’s used in the New Testament, or even illustrate it, but we are to model it. We must take the lead in breaking down the modern barriers of personal privacy where our homes are our privileged asylums from the outside world and where we hide from real life interaction.
But most pastors have no idea how to do this themselves, much less lead a congregation to do this. One study showed that at least 45 percent of pastors are introverted, which would cause a man to naturally retreat into his private domain and cloister only to come out Sunday and deliver his weekly encyclical.
We need to learn that the church is a community and should function as a community, which requires more interaction than a Sunday or mid-week service. A Christian community is a group of believers whose lives depend upon each other and interact with each other in common life experiences, sharing life for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
That means life, as it really is, is to be shared with others. We cannot hide the truth about us and make people believe we are better than we really are with Sunday curtsies and clothes. We must let others into our closed hearts and we must take the bold challenge of entering into their worlds and loving them in spite of what we may discover and in spite of being discovered. This is closer to New Testament Christianity and not the 21st century’s plastic version.
For the rest of the article and for other resources, download the free November/December RTM Magazine.
“He has given us a Savior. A Savior is what we most need. If I’m not yearning for a Savior, I’m the irrelevant one. The greatest thing God could do for us is to give us a Savior. God Himself defines true relevance here, because our basic problem in life is not financial or political or intellectual or psychological. Our basic problem is moral. If God spreads joy wherever He goes, we spread trouble wherever we go.
“Look at the history of the world. The vast majority of people on the face of this earth just want to be happy. We don’t mean any harm. We just want to live our quiet little lives and be left alone. And if nearly everybody feels that way, what’s gone wrong? Our good intentions are not strong enough to control our evil impulses. We need a Savior to rescue us from ourselves. And God, with great understanding and compassion, has given us what we most deeply need—a Savior in Jesus Christ.
“We who have come into Christ are not always going to be the way we are now. The world is not always going to be the way it is now. The Savior has come. Evil is doomed. Our best days still lie ahead.”
Though he daily fought death, his best days were still ahead.
Spiritual crisis accompanied the physical sickness of this insurance salesman in Glasgow, Scotland, but while sitting on what doctors believed was his death bed, life came and he was converted to faith in Jesus Christ.
Despite his profession in insurance, Dix loved poetry (something passed down from his father, a surgeon who wrote a biography on poet Thomas Chatterton) and while confined to his bed tried his hand at writing.
Out of the overflow of his infirmity and contemplation of the incarnation, Dix penned the words of the beloved Christmas carol, “What Child is This.”
C. S. Lewis once said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” This is what Ray Ortlund said in the beginning quote and it remains true. There are far better days ahead because the God of this universe became man. Born to die, Jesus carried our griefs, sorrows, and sins and saved us by His life, death, and life again.
This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, especially verse two because it reminds us that Christmas is just as much about a death day as a birthday. This Christmas, as we sing these beautiful songs and roast chestnuts on an open fire (is that a real thing?) and savor all the moments of this season, let our affections for the Baby in the manger point us to the Man on the cross.
Words by William Chatterton Dix, 1865
What Child is this Who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christian, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through
The cross be borne for me, for you
Hail, hail the Word made flesh
The Babe, the Son of Mary
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant, king to own Him
The King of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him
Raise, raise a song on high
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born
The Babe, the Son of Mary
More from the For the Love of Hymns series:
Part One: Oh the Bliss of the Purified
Part Two: Not Now My Child
Part Three: Take My Life and Let it Be
Part Four: There is a Fountain
Part Five: He Knows
Part Six: All My Hope on God is Founded
Part Seven: In Heavenly Love Abiding
Part Eight: Japheth Song
He found a Golgotha, where he was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the crèche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed his glory by his death.”
-John Donne, The Book of Uncommon Prayers
It is not a place or event but a single community with many members. It is the body of our Lord on this earth, the visible representation of Jesus to the world.
This one universal church of our Lord Jesus Christ is manifested throughout the world in what we call local churches. A local church is to be a miniature assembly of what God has assembled from the saints who have gone before and all the saints throughout the world. It’s a remarkable thing. A local church is to be a condensed version of what the body of Christ is in total.
What does this mean to you? For believers it should mean everything. The church is much more important than the 21st century church culture has made it. Men have made it a political machine to promote social relief, while others see the church as the power to personal growth or a development guru. We insist the church to be everything but what God intended it to be.
If you understand what a local church is and how it should function, it should mean something to you. In other words, it ought to be very dear to you. Isn’t Jesus everything to you? How then can you separate Jesus from His body? What good is a head without a body? Christ and His church are irrevocably joined. Neither Satan nor anything else can separate the church from Him. “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).
However, if you see the church as an event, something you do on Sunday, it will have little value. If you define the church as a place, somewhere you go on Sunday, you will not experience the church’s impact on your life and your life will have no positive impact on the church. Hell has been successful in its propaganda campaign, turning the living body of our Lord into a Sunday morning routine.
The church has to be redefined if sinners are to be converted into saints and they, in turn, are to reach other sinners. Some longstanding stereotypes of the church must be broken. Hell has cleverly convinced most people that church is a place you attend an event called a “worship service.” That’s absolutely false and has negatively impacted true church life.
What then is the church? Let’s think in local church terms. Every church, like the universal church, is to be a Gospel product, the result of the Word made flesh, and it is the Gospel that keeps the body together and healthy. God has given us the Gospel and it is the Gospel that gives life to the church.
The life of the church springs from Jesus, who is the gift of God, and He is the Gospel from which we are born. The new birth, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, is the life of God infused into an unbeliever. It is these new creations of redeemed individuals that God brings together and shapes into a corporate body.
One of the mistakes concerning the Gospel today is the belief that it is merely for evangelism and missions and once a person accepts the Gospel he or she then graduates beyond it to learn deeper truths.
You never graduate beyond the Gospel. Recently, I heard a man say, “We’re really into prophecy at our church.” But you miss the Gospel when you do that. Prophecy is part of the Gospel, but it’s not the sum total of it. The enemy doesn’t care how much of the truth you believe as long as you don’t believe all of it. He’ll encourage you to believe in prophecy and the second coming and the tribulation and the mark of the beast. He’ll encourage you to study prophetic Scripture, so long as you don’t understand it in relation to the Gospel. He wants to distract us from the heart of the truth of the Gospel because he knows without further knowledge of the Gospel a church or a Christian will not grow.
The enemy doesn’t care how much of the truth you believe as long as you don’t believe all of it.
For the rest of the article and for other resources, download the free November/December RTM Magazine.
Conrad Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, and a world-renowned minister of the Gospel. I first met Conrad at the inaugural CROSS Conference in 2013 when he wore his famous sweater (pictured below), the single greatest combination of threads I’ve ever laid eyes on, and I’ve been helped by his ministry ever since.
SM: What does the process of planting a church from start to finish look like within your church?
CM: The answer to this question would fill a book. The best summary is that we often begin with a man who senses God’s call to plant a church. Our elders examine that person and the church votes for him. Once he survives these two, we set him apart for the work and send him off. There are three major areas of work that we put into his hands: (1) Evangelism, (2) Discipleship, and (3) Leadership training. Our role includes prayer, finances, and logistical support. We usually aim to be done with the church planting work within eight years, depending on a lot of factors of course. We consider our work finished once we have ordained elders for that church.
SM: Address the need for church planting churches in Zambia.
CM: We encourage all the churches that we have planted to seriously consider going into church planting themselves. This is because, although there are churches in places where we go to plant our churches, we see the need for strong churches after the New Testament pattern, where the word of God is faithfully preached. Those are rare. It is as these churches reproduce themselves that we can have a network of strong churches to launch out into areas in Africa and beyond that do not have churches at all. Because these are likely to be in very difficult and far flung areas, we will need to hold hands together with like-minded churches to reach them. So, we must multiply good strong churches around us now.
SM: You’re well acquainted with the state of the church in the US. Do you believe the need for church planting churches exists there as well?
CM: Yes, for the very same reason that I have given above. Healthy churches are not an optional extra to the future of Christianity and the glory of God. Sadly, these are few and far between. So, where there is no church that your own people who have been raised upon good preaching can go to in an area, you need to seriously consider planting a church there.
SM: Should church planting be a goal for all pastors? If yes, what’s the process and foundation of establishing such a vision and mind-set?
CM: Not all churches will have the capacity to send out church planters, but every church should deliberately participate in supporting church planting activities. In that sense, all churches and their pastors should be involved in church planting. I find that the best way to start and sustain such a mindset is by running a regular missions conference in your church. That is a good time to have church planters come and share with your church what their challenges are. It is also a good time for your church and its members to commit financial support to the work of missions. Then during the same missions conference, the word of God would be preached that would direct the minds and hearts of God’s people towards the work of missions.
For the rest of Conrad’s Q&A and for other resources, download the free November/December RTM Magazine.