Stepping Out In Faith

Steve Arterburn

 

The waves crashed, the storm swelled, the wind howled, and the boat creaked and heaved. The apostles saw Him’Jesus approaching on the waves. ‘Lord, if it’s really you,’ Peter cried out, ‘tell me to come to you by walking on the water.’ Jesus bid him to come, so Peter stepped onto the tumultuous sea and began walking to Jesus. Then the apostle’s attention turned to the storm that surrounded him. His heart melted inside his chest, and his feet began sinking beneath the waves.

Men, being a Christian means stepping out in faith’believing that God is able to turn even the most tumultuous seas around you into a pathway toward Himself. You probably took familiar and safe paths in the past and found they didn’t take you where you needed or longed to go.

Please hear me on this: if you wait for all your fear to go away before you follow the call of Christ upon your life, you’ll never make significant spiritual progress. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s that stubbornness born of faith that causes you to move forward despite the fear you feel.

Fix your eyes on Jesus and don’t look at those unknown and untamed things swirling about. Call out to Him and move in faith toward Him ‘ His hands are always extended and open to you. Yes, you’ll feel fear and you’ll need His help. But move forward anyway. He won’t let you drown, and He’ll catch you if you start sinking.

The Secrets Of God And Men

Steve Arterburn

Secrets aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If they were, God wouldn’t have them. Yet Scripture tells us that God keeps some things completely to himself. The Bible calls these the ‘secret things’ of God. But if it’s acceptable for God to keep secrets, why isn’t it completely acceptable for us men to do likewise?

 

One key difference between God’s secrets and ours lies in the area of motive. Being perfect and pure, God has reasons for keeping secrets that reflect His flawless character. Fallen men, on the other hand, are neither perfect nor pure. Therefore, a man’s motives for keeping secrets are suspect.

 

The bottom line is this, and every man knows it: most of your secrets are kept out of fear’fear of embarrassment, shame, guilt, loss of respect, loss of stature and favor, repercussions, reparations, and so on. In other words, men usually keep secrets for all the wrong reasons. Understandable reasons perhaps, but wrong nonetheless.

 

Beyond being wrong, your secrets are also destructive. They divide you against yourself. They cause isolation and lack of honesty in your relationships with others. And finally, they provide the context in which sin thrives.

 

By way of contrast, exposing secrets to the light of truth robs them of their power to hold and harm you. It fosters humility, creates accountability, and allows you to be restored by the grace and love of God and your loved ones. Men, honesty truly is the best policy.   

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Chris Cole

‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad,’ Proverbs12:25.

Being anxious or fearful are common emotions that all of us face and deal with, especially when we go into recovery from addictions. Perhaps you have been medicating the anxiety experienced in relationships for many years and now you are for the first time beginning to deal with it in a healthy way. The scripture affirms that anxiety can really weigh a man’s heart down. It can be such a burden that we will do anything to find relief. In this article I will focus on some strategies to help you overcome the struggles with anxiety and fear.

I think that one central fear we face is the unknown. Not knowing what will happen can really drive a person to control their environment and everyone in it. As a result, we try to control so much that is out of our control. We anxiously try to control outcomes, as well as the circumstances. We try to control bad things from happening and people from getting upset with us. I believe that is why we falsely think that our addictions can make life work. We find relief from the anxiety with something that we can control. Take away that and the anxiety comes back. Then we get desperate for something else to take away the anxiety that we can control. Perhaps you struggle with cross addictions, where you take away one addiction (sex) and increase another (smoking).

Learning to deal with anxiety in a healthy way is an essential component to your recovery. The bible teaches that we must renew our mind with the truth, for the truth sets us free.

One strategy is to learn how to recognize anxious thoughts. Beware of: all or nothing thinking; over-generalization, dwelling on the negative, magnification and minimization, and ‘should’ statements. Learn to speak the truth to yourself and to calm yourself down by utilizing positive and truthful self talk.

In Philippians 4, Paul wrote:
‘(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (9) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ‘

I want to highlight the importance of dwelling on the things of verse 8. Verse nine says we need to practice them. You can train yourself to respond (think) in a new way. I also recognize that much anxiety comes as you project yourself in the future. Some people use the acronym FEAR as Future Events Appear Real. I cannot control the future, or how someone may respond or react, but I can control me and what I think in the here and now. So stay in the present. Also remember, take one step at a time. Essential here is learning to give up control over what I can’t control anyway, like what people think of me or how they may react.

If your anxiety is overwhelming, seek the help of a professional Christian counselor. Sometimes medication may be necessary to help you manage while you change the way you think. A counselor can help you process your fear and anxiety and help you develop new ways of handling life. He or she can help you learn to take risks and grow, and depend on God in new way. Peter (1 Peter 5:7) said we are to ‘cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.’

So in summary, learn to accept anxiety, understand it in context, and learn to identify the anxiety producing thoughts and replace them with the truth. I like the serenity prayer that Reinhold Niebuhr wrote because it reminds me that I need to ‘accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.’

Do you need some help with you fear or anxiety? Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.