"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

January 24, 2018


Fear is something that many of us deal with. In fact, I daresay that most of us have felt the effects of fear in one form or another more often than we'd like to admit. Anxiety, worry, agitation, distress, nervousness, anger, dread, and panic are all by-products of fear. Perhaps we don't feel those things continually, but every time certain situations or thoughts or events occur we find ourselves battling fear.

At times we may even know that we are being ridiculous, but we can't seem to help ourself from feeling the various emotions that fear brings. Other times, we may not even link what we're feeling as being fear.

This doesn't mean that we are constantly afraid or scared or fearful; nor are we dealing with the emotions related to fear. We may go through periods of time where we are doing well and don't feel any affects, but then something will crop up or happen or we will have thoughts pop up, and we find fear creeping in once again.

Fears that people have can run the gamut from storms, to health issues, to finances, to death, to spiritual issues, to what people think of them, to being alone, etc. Many times our fears are multiplied due to us focusing on that thing that makes us feel anxious or uptight or stressed; until the situation becomes exaggerated in our mind.

A couple weeks ago during prayer at Ladies Bible Study, the Holy Spirit spoke to our pastor that each of us, in our own way, were battling the spirit of fear. When she asked, we all raised our hand that indeed, that was something that we were all dealing with in one form or another. Well, all of us except one lady, who didn't want to admit it; but later admitted that yes, as she prayed, the Holy Spirit showed her that all the negative emotions she was feeling was directly related to fear.

At that time, I really thought I knew what area in my life was being impacted by fear. The truth is, there have been times over the past few years when something related to that particular area would crop up, and I would have to tamp down worry and anxiety and all the "what ifs" that would pop up in my mind. During Bible Study that evening, I closed the door to fear in that specific area and felt as if progress was made and victory was achieved.

A few days ago, I was praying and the Holy Spirit showed me another area in my life that has been greatly impacted by fear since childhood. Yes, for well over 45 years I have battled this particular fear off and on.

Let me preface what I'm going to write by saying that I am very grateful for my upbringing and the godly influences I had in my life. I was truly, truly blessed!

I grew up in an old-fashioned Pentecostal upbringing, hearing hell, fire, and damnation preaching. That wasn't all necessarily bad, but I remember preachers saying things like, "If you should die and have any sin that you didn't know about or haven't repented of, then you'll go to hell!" "If the rapture takes place and Jesus comes back and there is any sin in your life and you haven't had a chance to ask forgiveness, then you will go to hell!" I heard about the judgement of God, but never about His mercy and grace. For many years I never had a real understanding of what true forgiveness and God's lovingkindness and mercy looked like. What I did understand was fear!

As a very young girl, I would repent over and over again for "all my sins and any sins that I've committed that I didn't know about." I would beg for God's forgiveness every single night before falling asleep, scared that Jesus would return and I'd be left behind because of some secret, hidden sin that may have been in my life. I'd wake up during the night and get up out of bed and check to make sure that Daddy and Mama were still in their bed and that the rapture hadn't taken place and I'd been left behind. I guess it didn't really matter that I shared a bed with my sister and she was still there! Throughout the day I'd pray numerous times, repenting and asking forgiveness of any sin in my heart. It became a way of life, and a way of praying, for me. Constant guilt and constant repenting and constant fear that I may sin and die or the rapture take place. It was not a very loving, freeing Christian life! In fact, looking back, I can see that I was enslave by fear from a very early age.

As an adult, I overcame many of those feelings and fears and came to understand that God is a loving, merciful, forgiving Father who cares deeply for His children. He's not standing over us with a heavy hand of discipline, just waiting to strike us down or execute judgement or watching to see if we'll mess up, so He can send us to hell. No! Our Father deeply loves us and wants to see us succeed and grow and mature in our relationship with Him. His mercies are new every single morning! He gives us grace, even during those times when we don't deserve it. God wants to see us succeed and spend eternity with Him!! That's His deepest desire.

But even though I had grown much in my relationship with God and had a deeper understanding of His grace and mercy, I still had that thought in the back of my mind that I was going to mess up and sin and something would happen before I repented of it; or I would not realize that I'd disappointed God and sinned, therefore, I wouldn't repent of it. Yes, I had grown in my understanding; but I also had those roots of fear.

The Holy Spirit showed me that I had tried to cut that fear down and get rid of it, but all I was doing was chopping away at it, without getting rid of the roots. Therefore, those roots were still there in my life, and had never been dug up and disposed of. If I wanted to have complete victory, then I had to allow my Heavenly Father dig up all those roots and permanently dispose of them so that they can never ever grow back.

1 John chapter four has much to say about this subject. Verses 16-18 says this: "We have come to know and have believed the love God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (The NLT says, "As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we will face Him with confidence, because we live like Jesus here in this world.") There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (NLT: "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.")."

No one should serve God, only out of a fear of eternal punishment. Yes, we should do all that we can to avoid hell, but our salvation shouldn't be fear-based. It is completely love-based, because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. God gave His Son out of love for mankind, whom He created. God provided a way for us to receive everlasting life out of His desire to spend eternity with us. In fact, Jesus loves us so much that before He ascended back to Heaven, He promised, "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you can be, too!" And it's not just any old place, it's a place filled with mansions for each of us, streets made out of gold, gates made out of precious jewels, river of life flowing, no sickness or disease or death or parting, and more splendor than we can even imagine!

God is not fear, God is love! Therefore, as His children, we should not be fear-filled, but love-filled!

I read a blog by Kris Vallotton and what he wrote really gives a lot of clarity. (I am only sharing parts of what he wrote.) "A large portion of the church believes that even when you're saved, you're still a sinner who needs to constantly repent. I find that so many people can get caught up in a cycle of shame, guilt, and self-punishment if they're of the mindset that they're constantly sinning. The truth is that Jesus came to set us free from a lifestyle of proving our own innocence. Once you're saved, your new nature is that of a saint (who has moments of sin, not a nature of sin). You can't sin by mistake. There's a difference between a mistake and a sin. The only way you can sin is to know that what you're doing is wrong and do it anyway. Sin is a heart issue, so a mistake and a sin aren't the same thing. It's not about the depth of the damage that determines whether I sinned or not. It's about my heart and intention. We may indeed choose to sin, and consequently need to repent. What I am saying is that we don't naturally sin because we no longer have a sin nature that is married to the Law. Our old nature has been crucified with Christ, we are new creations married to Christ in the New Covenant. Embrace your identity as a saint, repent from any partnership you've made with the lie that you're a sinner, and begin walking in the freedom that Jesus purchased for you!"

There is a song that says, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace." I've heard christians say similar. The truth is, that's who we were. We were a sinner saved by grace; but that is not who we are today. Thinking of ourselves as sinners, even ones who have experienced grace, makes us see ourselves as less than who we are in Christ. The truth is we are children of God; which makes us heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:17)

Therefore, I don't have to live in fear of sinning and allowing it to remain without repentance. That is the lie and misconception that Satan would want to keep me bound with. As 1 John 4:18 says, fear involves the punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. I no longer want any root of that fear to remain within me. I want to know and experience the perfect love of my Father!!

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind! (2 Timothy 1:7) In place of the fear, I asked God to replace that area in my life where the roots had long been, with love, power, and a sound mind; because when something harmful is removed, we need to replace it with something good and beneficial. I shut the door on that fear and declared victory, declaring that it could never again grow back.

If you have an area in your life where you are experiencing fear, you don't have to stay enslaved. Often we think, "Well, everyone deals with some type of fear," so we hang onto whatever it is that is keeping us bound. We tend to excuse our battling the affects of fear, as a normal part of life.

This is not how God intended us to live our life. Otherwise, there wouldn't be so many scriptures that speak against fear and overcoming it. We can experience total and complete victory!! That spirit of fear can be destroyed and we have the God-given authority to close the door on anxiety, worry, anger, distress, dread, etc. In it's place, we have the promise that He will give us love, power, and a sound mind!

"Father, I release every single fear to You, right now! I don't want my my mind, spirit, and soul to be consumed by worries, anxiety, stress, distress, dread; which are all fear-based. From this moment on, I choose to not give into the spirit of fear regarding my salvation, my health, my finances, my job (or my husband's job), my family, my home, paying bills (taxes and insurances)....and anything else that brings about fear. I close the door to emotional based fears. I chose to not worry and fret about the future and all the what ifs that may or may not be possibilities that may or may not happen. Father, reveal to me every single fear that has taken root in my life so that I can be aware of them; then I ask that You will pull out every one of those roots and destroy them so that they can not grow back. In the place of every root that is pulled out, fill that place with power, love, and a sound mind! In the name of Jesus, I take authority over every spirit of fear that has attacked my thoughts and that has come against me in any way, telling those spirits of fear that they are no longer welcome and can no longer dwell within me. So go, right now, and I close that door so that you can never return! Right now, from this very moment forward, fear, nor any of its counterparts, are not welcome and they have to go. I choose to live in freedom and experience the perfect love of God. I declare victory over every area of my mind, soul, body, and spirit right now, in the name of Jesus! Amen!"


Panic can make people do some pretty strange things. And many times, it's exactly the wrong thing. For example, kids often try to hide to escape a fire. Adults usually duck if there is a shooter in a crowded area, when running is much better. Most people will scream if they see a lion or other predator.

A less severe fear can also push people to do self-defeating things. Fear of being alone might make someone avoid being alone in a crowd (which feels even worse), so they never go meet anyone. Someone afraid of heights might avoid heights at all costs. Every time they escape a situation that could lead to heights reenforces that escaping is a relief and good.

Fearing hell can get lead people to focus entirely on the old law. The Pharisees were so focused on law that they missed on everything Jesus was trying to teach them. And they tried to condemn other, which isn't our job.

Fear, in moderation, can help keep us safe. After all, it does help us try to avoid a fire, predators, and sin. But it has to be mixed with a little wisdom. One definition of courage is "the ability to do something that frightens one." It doesn't mean not having fear. But with some wisdom and strength, you can overcome that fear, and take courage.


Chicken Gnocchi Soup

(This is one of our favorite soups. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but it's really easy to make.)

1/2 stick butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely diced celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart half-and half

2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

1 cup finely shredded carrots

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves

1 cup diced chicken breast (or use rotisserie chicken)

1 (16-ounce) package gnocchi

Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the half-and-half. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Simmer until soup is heated through.

**I generally add more chicken and sometimes more gnocchi. The frozen gnocchi is really good, but more expensive than the pre-packaged.


More Bulletin Bloopers:

The Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

Applications are now being accepted for 2 year-old nursery workers.

Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.

The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.

(One of my favorites) Tuesday at 4 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.


Do not forsake quiet time with God.

The truth you store up in silence comes back to you in the storm. - Christine Caine


We love you!

Loretta & Jon