Tag Archive | gun control

Symptoms, Solutions, & Overcoming Your Fear

Yesterday, the city of San Bernardino, CA was rocked by another mass shooting that claimed the lives of multiple people, and wounded many others. Another community shaken to its foundation. More families grieving the loss of loved ones. More empty rhetoric from politicians and pundits intent on attacking the “symptom” of gun control without wanting to address the root of the disease. As actor Samuel L. Jackson said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2012…

I don’t think it’s about more gun control. I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life.

As many have said (and Mr. Jackson alluded to), the problem is not a gun problem, it’s a heart problem. It’s about evil in the world that does not play by anyone’s rules or regulations — whether it is ISIS, Al-Quaeda, or “lone wolves” like Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. But while these groups and individuals prey upon innocent victims or an unsuspecting society, they introduce into our lives chaos, anger, sorrow, and…

FEAR.

Fear is a magnet to demons. Fear will draw in the enemy, and will bring to pass the thing you have spoken out of your mouth. You need to understand that fear is not only an emotion, it is a spirit. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Friend, it’s time to recognize your fears.

What fears flood and bring failure to your life?  It is time to take a close look at your mind and see what fears may exist there.

Fearing Life

Every day I meet people who are afraid to live life to its fullest. This fear is one of the first to ever show its face in this world. Right after Adam and Eve fell into sin, God showed up to speak to them.  In Genesis 3:10 Adam admitted to God, “I heard Your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.” He couldn’t even go through his normal routines there in the garden!

Perhaps you’re afraid that people will find out who you really are and then shun you.  You are afraid that some of the things that you’ve done that are between you and God may come out. You live in fear of the truth. However, if there is any place in the world that you ought to be able to live a transparent life, it ought to be in the church. You ought to be able to surface your difficulties and your failures and have them dealt with in safety there.

The impact of fear reaches beyond spiritual issues; it can also affect your job. Perhaps you are afraid to take the next step for advancement. Maybe you fear going into management because you’re afraid the responsibility will be bigger than anything you’ve ever known. The comfort zone is preferred over progress. Someone reading here may have birthed a wonderful idea but you won’t take a risk because you so deeply fear failure.

History tells us that Abraham Lincoln lost every election he ran in except for when he ran for president. What if he had quit? We would not have had one of our greatest presidents. There are those who are paralyzed by the fear of getting up in the morning and just going about the chores of life. I want to challenge you to break this spirit and believe that you can be everything God has created you to be and more.

Fearing Death

Hebrews 2:14-15 says that “Jesus was manifested that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject unto bondage.” Many people sustain a powerful fear of dying. I believe that’s why about 65% of our hospital dollars are going to give people tests for diseases they don’t have. Many people wake up nightly short of breath, and they actually are suffering from night terrors, a demonic attack on basic health.

If you are saved, why should you be afraid of dying? Philippians 1:21 should be the Christian’s boast, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Heaven is not a thing to be feared. I’ve heard people say, “You know, I want to go to heaven, but I’m not ready if there is a trip going out tonight.”  Well, I’m ready to go today. I would miss my family, and they would miss me terribly. But after Jesus died on the cross and then arose from the tomb, He lit up the corridors of death forever. I don’t have to be afraid. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me,” said David in Psalm 23. Even in death, we are not alone.

Fearing the Enemy

Psalm 31:13-15 should be the proper response when you are facing the enemy, “I hear the slander of many. Fear is on every side, while they take counsel together against me and scheme to take away my life, but as for me, I trust in you, O Lord. I say you are my God. My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”

I don’t have to be afraid of the devil or his emissaries that wear skin here on the earth. Jesus spoiled principalities and powers.  He ripped the astro-deities from their thrones and exposed the enemy. I don’t have to be afraid of a tarot card, or a horoscope. I don’t need to call a psychic to find out what is going to happen tomorrow. I boast with the psalmist David in Psalm 31, “My times are in His hands.”

Fearing Man

This fear is a powerful one for many. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Is there somebody in your life that when you see them fear rises up in your spirit? Is there something in you that has you agreeing with people when you know they are wrong, simply because you are afraid of what they will think of you? Have you ever gone along with people and done things you know you shouldn’t do just because of fear that they might think badly of you? With all of the chaos going on in the world, are you afraid to just walk out your front door?

This fear of man is something that really grips our young people today. Peer pressure, a fear of what friends think, can take over their lives. The fear of being different, the fear of what other people think—these can be so strong.  I’m not telling you that you ought to be obnoxious, but the honest truth is that it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks but God. Young people and adults alike need to quit allowing the fear of man to hinder what God wants to do in their lives.

Fearing Insignificance

People are afraid that their lives won’t count for anything. I think of Genesis 15 and the story of Abraham. Here’s old Abram, he has left fame and fortune in Ur of the Chaldees, left his beautiful home and is living in a tent. Out here, nobody knows who he is. In Genesis 15:1 it says, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, ‘Do not be afraid.  I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.’”

You said, “Well, I didn’t win ‘Employee of the Month’ even though I deserved it.” But God saw it, and He took account of your stewardship. You say, “Nobody has ever given me a plaque. Nobody appreciates what I do.”  I want to tell you, your great reward is God.

I remind you of the story of the woman who broke the alabaster box and wept over Jesus’ feet. Nobody really knows what her name is; some scholars believe it was Mary. What we do know for sure: Jesus appreciated what she did. We also don’t know the widow’s name that stepped up to the temple offering box and threw in the “widow’s mite”, all of her living, but Jesus knows her name, and she is significant and important to Him.

One day you are going to get to heaven and you are going to find out everything you sowed into this life is still over there. You sowed it into His work. Embrace the understanding that Jesus Christ is the one who can make your life last forever.

Fearing the Future

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace
and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

You don’t have to be afraid of what is going to happen tomorrow. Once you know the Lord Jesus Christ, the fear of the future can leave.

When my son, Ronnie, Jr. was a little boy, he loved to go with me on errands. Even when he was four or five years old, he would eagerly jump into the passenger seat even if it were a quick trip. Looking back, I think it is significant that not once did he say, “Daddy, do you have enough gas in the car?”  “Daddy, do you have any money with you?”  “Daddy, do you really know the directions to where are we going?”

You see, he didn’t have to ask those questions. He put his little hand in my hand, and that was all he needed. He was ready to go, because he trusted me. He knew that if he was with me, his needs would be met in abundance. Whether it was a soda from the gas station or a quick trip through fast food drive-through, he knew he wouldn’t go hungry on our trip. If he needed a restroom, Daddy would find one. And he could trust that Daddy would know the way back home when it was time.

I can’t predict to you what will happen in your future. But, I can tell you this, as a believer, what is waiting for you in eternity is wonderful and you don’t have to worry.

 

Today’s blog adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House Book Group

#CharlestonStrong

Emanuel AME2

A week ago, on the evening of June 17, Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — one of the oldest AME churches in the nation — with the alleged intention of starting a race war. Hiding a gun in his backpack, he sat and talked with parishioners during their mid-week Bible study. Approximately an hour into the study, Roof pulled out his gun, and began firing. When he left the building, 8 people were dead, with one critically injured who later died at the hospital.

Within hours of the shooting, reports began to fill the airways and internet of the tragic events at “Mother Emanuel“. With 9 people dead and the subject at large, tensions were high as people already began to assume that the shooting was racially motivated. The next day, Dylann Roof was apprehended in Shelby, North Carolina — some 245 miles away. He was returned to Charleston where he was promptly charged with the murders. As news crews and TV personalities descended upon Charleston, and images of Ferguson and Baltimore still vivid in the minds of people across the nation, many on the outside of the situation wondered if this tragedy would spark yet more civil and racial unrest.

The answer came on June 19 when, in his bond hearing, Roof was addressed by the people he had deeply wounded — the people of Emanuel AME and the families of the victims. They spoke of the hurt and pain he had caused in their lives — of the wounds born of his act of hatred. Yet, in spite of the pain in their hearts and voices, they had an overwhelming message for Dylann Roof…

“We forgive you.”

In the following days, as reporters broadcast from outside of the church, what they experienced was a wounded community coming together to worship and heal.

As the “usual suspects” of racial division and disunity began to sing their familiar song of prejudice and fear, citizens of the Charleston area joined hands and hearts across racial divides and came together over the next few days in churches throughout Charleston, including the following Sunday at Emanuel AME, where Reverend Norvel Goff had a message for the world…

“A lot of folk expected us to do something strange, and break out in a riot.
Well, they just don’t know us.
They just don’t know us because we are a people of faith. And we believe that when we put our voices and heads together, working for a common good, there is NOTHING we can not accomplish together in the name of Jesus!”

As politicians and activists began attempting to re-invigorate the “anti-gun” message, the message coming from inside the walls of Emanuel AME Church was one of love, forgiveness, and faith. It was also a message of warfare against the REAL enemy…

“… For those of us that are here this morning, I want you to know that  because the doors of ‘Mother Emanuel’ are open on THIS Sunday, it sends a message to every demon in hell and on earth that no weapon formed against us shall prosper… Some wanted to divide the race — black and white and brown — but no weapon formed against us shall prosper!” ~ Rev. Norvel Goff

There will always be people of every color in America. Because of our differences, and because we live in a fallen world, there will always be INDIVIDUALS — like Dylann Roof — who have a heart filled with racial hatred. However, I do not believe that America is a racist country. In a country with a population of over 300 million, you cannot ascribe to an entire population or people-group the actions or attitudes of an individual or minority. This is not the America of the 1960’s. It is time that all of us — red, yellow, black, and white — take a stand against the voices of fear and division that would try to use these types of tragic events for nefarious and self-serving purposes. It is time for we, as a united people, to stand up and say with one voice…

“No more!”

It is time that we, the church, follow the example of Jesus in heated and uncomfortable deed, and not just in air-conditioned and comfortable word. For the people of Emanuel AME to stand there, two days after such a tragic event, look into the face of the twisted, hate-filled heart that took away the lives of their beloved family members and friends, and say, “We forgive you” — It put the love of Jesus in full color, front-row view for the entire world to see. While those with no understanding of such love asked the question, “Why did God allow this to happen?”, Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of slain Pastor Daniel Simmons, summed it up in an incredible way on Fox New’s Hannity program…

“God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”

What we have witnessed in the people of Emanuel AME is the example of Jesus…

  • In the shadow of His inevitable death, He shared a message that said…

“… Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and PERSECUTE you.” ~ Matthew 5:44

  • In the agony of His own undeserved death, He reached out to a thief dying next to Him and assured him…

“… Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” ~ Luke 23:43

  • As He hung between Heaven and Earth, Jesus pleaded for forgiveness for the very people who had put Him on the cross…

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” ~Luke 23:34

It is an example that the worldly mind will never understand.

Forgiveness silences the critics.

Forgiveness takes the ammunition away from the agitator.

Forgiveness leaves the voices of hatred and assumed offense in stunned silence.

In the aftermath of the events in Ferguson and Baltimore, protesters and politicians were front and center in the media for weeks. In the case of the acquitted officer in Ferguson, although he was proven to be innocent, the false narrative of the tragic event was still being advanced by people with no regard for the truth.

But in Charleston, forgiveness took the teeth out of the story.

Anger never got the front page.

The root of bitterness never found fertile soil to grow.

The forces of hatred and racism never got enough traction to have to be reckoned with.

At the end of the day, Jesus showed up in the hearts, faces, voices, and actions of a group of hurting people who understood love and forgiveness are stronger than hate.

And to those who are trying to keep the story alive by focusing on some of the fringe issues like the Confederate flag or more gun control — please — let’s keep the story where it belongs, for now…

On the lives of the “Emanuel 9”.

If we do that, we might find the message of healing and forgiveness so absent in our culture today.

The message of what it means — REALLY means — to love like Jesus.

For THAT is the message a hurting world needs to hear.

Radicals, Racism, or Righteousness: The Choice is Yours

Society is being turned on it’s ear, and we are being given a front-row seat.

I could sit here for days and decry the many ways in which our culture is losing it’s soul. I could catalogue the multiple symptoms that are evidence of the demise of towns and cities all over America.

I mean, think about this…

To steal an eagle’s egg in the U.S. carries a $10,000.00 fine, yet killing an unborn human is perfectly legal. Since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, if the same fine was imposed for the nearly 55 million abortions that have taken place since then, the cumulative monetary fine would be more than $545,596,150,000.00

Staying sexually pure is mocked, while sexual promiscuity is lauded as normal. While the acceptable age for “sex education” in our schools goes younger and younger, “abstinence education” is frowned upon and virtually ignored. Meanwhile, the out-of-wedlock birthrate in our nation is at a disastrous 40.7%.

To speak out against homosexual activity is viewed as more reprehensible than the activity itself.

Time and time again, the national media is caught in the act of “creating news” instead of “reporting news”.

The city of Detroit is now in the process of filing bankruptcy. Political corruption and out-of-control crime are being blamed as two of the contributing factors in the city’s demise.

While the country was focused on the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, the murder statistics in cities like Chicago continued to skyrocket — virtually ignored.

So what do we do? How do we as Christians respond to such overwhelming bad news? How do we stand against the forces of dishonesty, corruption, and division that would tear our country apart?

Righteousness.

Now you say, “Pastor, that sounds a little simplistic and naive.” Maybe it does, but the fact is that truth is not a difficult concept. Regardless of how complicated we try to make things, the best way is, in most cases, the simplest. Throughout history, the most popular ideas and inventions are often the most practical ones. The problems that most people have with Scripture are not based on the doctrines of Scripture, but on our own personal hangups…

  • We have an aversion to calling sin by its proper name: SIN. Because of political correctness and fear of the “thought police”, we suffer from a lost consciousness of evil, and confusion over right and wrong. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that…

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

So the question becomes: Are you eating the wholesome and delectable fruit of righteousness and truth, or the poisonous, rancid, spoiled fruit of “conventional wisdom” and “popular opinion”.

  • There’s an old saying: “If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything”. Truth is not subjective. Truth does not change. The consequence of standing in front of a speeding train is certain death, regardless of how much you disagree with the laws of physics. The consequence of breaking the laws of God is spiritual death, regardless of how much man ignores, defies, or denies Him.
  • There is an immutable fact in nature: “You reap what you sow”. The Bible is very clear in Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

No society can long survive lawlessness and corruption. Any civilization that forsakes righteousness and truth is not long for the world. As President Ronald Reagan once said..

“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”

  • God didn’t call us to be a “white church” or a “black church” — He called us to be “THE Church”. We cannot begin to expect to change a culture that is (sadly) so racially divided until we break down the walls that divide us in within the family of God. In the Bible, the primary racial divide was between the Jew and the Gentile. Paul addressed that divide in Ephesians when he said:

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:14-18

We don’t need a culture of more “open-mindedness”… we need a culture of Godly righteousness.

We don’t need more “gun control”… we need more “self control”.

We don’t need leaders who will prove themselves once they get into public office… we need servants who have already proven themselves in order to get into public office.

We don’t need more programs for fatherless children… we need more “real men” who will honor women, and make them wives before they make them mothers.

If we are still bound and determined to be a “colored church”, then let’s be the “Crimson Church” — covered by the crimson blood of the One who died to make us all one in Him.

Join me at Abba’s House this Sunday as I talk about Righteousness as I continue my series “Seven Words that Work Wonders”. If you can’t be there, click here to watch us online.