Monday, August 18, 2014

For God Gave Us a Spirit... (Part 2)

"For God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." 1 Tim 2:7

A few weeks ago, I shared how fear has recently been revealed to me as a stronghold in my life. And in May, I started meditating on this verse and trying to understand how to combat this spirit of fear.

I began this journey by recognizing the many, many ways that fear ruled in my life: fear of lack, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, etc. From worrying about whether my straightener was going to burn down the house to worrying about future bills and uncertain outcomes--fear had a full foothold in the door of my heart.

But lately, God has focused me on the other three components of this verse: power and love and a sound mind. I have a spirit of power: What does this look like on me? I have a spirit of love and a sound mind: What does that look like?

I mentioned a little in the last post that fear is the antithesis to faith--and faith unleashes the power of God in our life. 

Ephesians 1 calls His power immeasurable toward us who believe.

When we put our faith in Jesus--in the power and the message of His finished work of the cross--it reveals to us the mystery of the gospel, the good news: that we are made righteous, that we are given an inheritance--our status as sons and daughters--and that we are filled with grace.

Grace. His power, His ability, working in us. 

It is sufficient. 

By His grace, we get to be powerful people. 

So, fear is the antithesis to power, to faith. Fear is also the antithesis to love.

I'm reading Danny Silk's Keeping Your Love On, and it's no coincidence that the chapter I just started is titled, "The Battle Between Fear and Love."

Fear of rejection, fear of (dis)connection, fear of vulnerability, fear of loss--that's the battle; each is the hindrance to our ability to be real and genuine, to be sincere in our love toward each other.

Silk writes, "Learning to partner with the spirit of love requires you to become powerful. That is a serious challenge. When Paul told Timothy that the spirit of love is also the spirit of power and a sound mind, he implied that the opposite, the spirit of fear, is the spirit of powerlessness and a weak, divided mind. When you grow up partnering with the spirit of fear, as most of us do, you learn to simply hand over your brain and your power, letting fear take control. But as soon as you decide to partner with the spirit of love, you have to think and make powerful choices" (p. 53).

Last post, I said that we are powerful people, and I love how Danny calls fear a spirit of powerlessness.

To be powerful is not the same as being a bully, manipulative, aggressive, or even controlling. In fact, one of the most freeing things I've heard recently from the pastors at Harvest is that control is an illusion

Danny says it this way: "The only person you can control--on a good day--is you" (p. 51).

So let's talk about this last component: a sound mind. Some translations calls this a spirit of self-control. How appropriate!

Fear in relationships creates distances, disconnection, anything that looks nothing like love. Sometimes fear in relationships translates into the pseudo-power we tend to recognize: manipulation and control.

But for us to have healthy relationships, for us to love sincerely, we have to break the spirit of fear in our life. We have to take control of our minds--our thoughts, our worries, our assumptions, our judgments, our hypothetical conversations (I know I'm not the only person who does this :)). We have to learn to control our minds--to find self-control.

But the good news is God has given us a spirit, and it's not of fear. Like the gift of righteousness, like the fullness of grace, this gift is ours to choose, to believe, to receive His spirit of power and love and a sound mind. 

I can't control others, but I can stay connected to my Father's heart. I can, by faith, receive the fullness of His grace. I can, through Him, be powerful in my relationships.

And what does it mean to be powerful? It means I'm free from fear--and more so, I'm free to love, to really love, with sincerity, with a genuine heart, without expectations, without fear, without shame.

I'm free to be vulnerable.

Last night, I heard a message on shame and the fear of loss, and like the spirit of fear we've been talking about, the pastor concluded that we fight shame by being vulnerable.

I'm still mulling this over, but I pray if you're reading this, I pray for myself, that we would recognize the strongholds of fear in our life, and that we would especially fight the battle of fear in our relationships with others, and that fear of lack, fear of rejection, fear of loss, insecurity by any name we want to give it would be broken in the name of Jesus.

May we be powerful and vulnerable people today. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

For God Gave Us a Spirit...

"For God gave us a spirit, not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7

Most of us probably know this verse, so maybe it feels pat, but I've been meditating on this one verse all summer. It started when I read a book by Jackie Mize last May that used this acronym:
F - false
E - evidence
A - against
R - reality

Fear. False evidence against reality. Jackie writes, "Fear motivates Satan as faith motivates God. Fear is Satan's tool as faith is God's" (p. 100).

Satan's number one tool is fear; it is the antithesis of faith. Yet, we so rarely recognize fear. We mask it as stress, worry, insecurity, busyness. But at the root--it is all fear.

  • Fear of the future, that something won't be accomplished
  • Fear of the unknown, that something won't work out the way we want or need
  • Fear of failure, that something will fail and/or that we will be failures
  • Fear of insufficiency, that the "work" we do (i.e., at our jobs, in our marriage, with our kids, in our friendships) won't be enough 
  • Fear of lack, that He won't provide, that He isn't enough

  • Fear of lack, that we aren't enough, that we aren't sufficient (i.e., body size, hair color, personality, what we do, where we live, how much we make, etc.)
  • Fear of rejection, that again, we won't measure up, that others will reject us

  • Fear of feeling, that if we stop, if we slow down, if we feel, we'll be vulnerable; we'll have to be real and get to the root and deal with our heart, and isn't it just easier to be busy? 

For the last two months, I have prayed against a spirit of fear almost daily. And I've found that Step One is just praying to see the evidence of fear, to recognize it, to call it what it is. It's more than stress: it's fear. It's more than insecurity: it's fear. 

And we have to see it from the seemingly insignificant worries to the major events that keep us up at night. For weeks, almost every time I left the house, I was convinced I had not unplugged my straightener. This, naturally, led me to believe that the house would burn down, that my dogs (my babies!), who are inside, would die, that I would lose all my possessions, my journals, my writing. Life itself would be over. That is fear, my friends. Did I unplug my straightener? Did I close the garage door? Did I lock my car? These obsessions are Satan's tools, insignificant as they seem. 

If we never identify fear's strongholds in our life, we cannot break the spirit of fear over us. 

God gave us a spirit. 

It is not a spirit of fear.

It is a spirit of power and love and self-control. 

I want to look at each of these traits of our spirit individually in the next few posts. But today, remember that you are filled with a spirit of power. God's grace--His ability--fills you. I believe Paul lists power first because it's believing that the power of God dwells in us that enables us to overcome fear, and it's believing that the power of God dwells in us that equips us to love and to have self-control. 

You are a powerful person. Don't walk in fear today.