Banishing Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . – 1 John 4:18a

Banishing Fear

When we feel threatened in relationships, we tend to become defensive and guarded. On the other hand, when we feel safe, we’re far more willing to be open and vulnerable. This is true of our relationships with other people, and it’s also true in our relationship with God.

The apostle John wrote: “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that [God’s] love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of his loving us first.”

If Jesus hadn’t paid the price for our sins on the cross, there would be every reason for fear and defensiveness before a holy God. But, God showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins and free us from them. As a result, it’s safe to open yourself to God.

Jesus has his arms wide open, calling you to come and receive His love. Could there be anything better? His love is real, and waiting to embrace you. His love is ready to transform you and drive the fear from your heart. God is love, and He shows Himself to you in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you open yourself to God’s love, you’ll become open to seeing the truth about God and yourself—and you’ll no longer need to be afraid.

– Steve Arterburn

Never take counsel of your fears.” – Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824–1863)

Accepting Forgiveness

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – Luke 5:24a

Accepting Forgiveness

Many of us struggle with a sense of guilt that won’t go away, even after we’ve confessed our sin and know in our minds that we’re forgiven. It’s hard–sometimes too hard–to accept that God has forgiven us. When you ask God to forgive your sin, he does. The Bible says he removes your sin “as far as the East is from the West.” Do you know what that means? It means that the second time you ask forgiveness for a sin, God says, “What sin?” Because he already erased it from your record, forever.

Mistakes aren’t sources of shame in your life; they are avenues for grace. God’s grace is not reserved solely for our salvation. God gives his grace to us day in and day out.

Your weakness or failure shouldn’t disqualify you or discourage you from making an effort in the first place. Don’t think: If I try harder, I will never fail again. Instead, think: Even though failure’s a possibility, by God’s grace, I will go forward.

When you find yourself struggling with accepting God’s forgiveness, try this: Write a letter which says to your spouse, your children, or a good friend who struggles with not feeling forgiven. If you need some help, search the Bible . . . it’s full of stories and instruction on forgiveness. When you finish, read the letter to yourself, and ask the Holy Spirit to apply the truth of God’s promises to your heart.

– Steve Arterburn

Always forgive your enemies–nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

Finding Their Voices

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
Finding Their Voices

As its founder, I’ve participated in several focus groups, surveys, and brainstorming sessions associated with the Women of Faith Conferences. Their objective? To identify and address areas where women felt they needed help becoming all God desires of them.

Perhaps the most common theme is that women need to “find their voices.” In other words, Christian women today must discover who they are in Jesus Christ, and express that in their lives in such a way that glorifies God.

One of the reasons so many women need this kind of help is that so many men pressure and push women to be silent—to neglect their voice. Sadly, many men secure their own position by stifling or ignoring the identity, and unique gifting of women. Consequently, many women sense that their role is perceived as insignificant; they feel that their voice isn’t recognized, valued, or welcomed.

It’s the challenge of every man to help the woman in his life find her voice, and then, be respectful and receptive when that voice speaks. Men, I challenge each of you: guard the voice God’s given to the woman in your life, whether it’s your wife, your daughter, your sister or your mother. Stop and listen to her.

– Steve Arterburn

Before God we are all equally wise–and equally foolish. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” – Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

A Sober Request

No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:6

A Sober Request

I’ll never forget the night I was listening to Chuck Swindoll address about ten thousand Christians. Right in the middle of his message, I heard a
statement that virtually sucked the air right out of the room.

He proclaimed, “I know some of you are having sex with your children. And I’m telling you to stop it. I’m asking you to stop it. You must consider the impact on your child. You must stop having sex with your children.

Why on earth would he say that? Because he was the pastor of a church and heard the confessions of people who’d been involved in incestuous relationships.

It is reported that the trauma of child abuse actually rewires parts of the brain in both function and structure. The effects are quite serious. The abnormalities can last right through adulthood, leaving the victim with such problems as aggression, poor emotional control, memory and attention disorders, and serious mood and personality disorders.

The nature of this sin is such that all of us would rather leave it in silence. But we simply cannot. Therefore, I repeat what Chuck Swindoll said that night: “You must stop having sex with your children.” And I would add, “I beg you to get the help you need.

Steve Arterburn

“If you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.” – Unknown Author

 

A Perplexing Life

I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

A Perplexing Life

In his book, The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn tells the story of his family’s trip to Egypt. While driving through the hot and dusty streets of Cairo, they passed a graveyard for American missionaries and decided to enter. One sun-scorched tombstone in particular caught their attention. At the top it read: William Borden, 1887-1913.

What makes Borden so interesting is that he was a Yale graduate, and the heir to great wealth. Yet he rejected a life of ease in order to help bring the gospel to Egypt. He gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions, and after only four months of ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at age twenty-five.

At the bottom of William Borden’s tombstone is the powerful little statement: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

The gospel doesn’t merely take the world’s wisdom and “clean it up.” It doesn’t teach us to simply sing the world’s song dressed up in a religious vocabulary. No, the gospel sets the wisdom of the world upon its head, and counts it as foolishness. The gospel introduces an entirely new set of values and concerns, and an entirely new way of looking at life.

Steve Arterburn 

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis (1895–1963)

From Slavery To Servanthood

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17

From Slavery To Servanthood

Imagine the scene: A broken man awakens one morning with no options. Hopeless, owning nothing but an empty stomach, he stands starkly upon the auctioneer’s block as a slave. Shoulders slumped, pride stripped away, gaunt eyes staring aimlessly into the distance, his ashen face conveys only shame.

Suddenly, a man with gentle eyes appears, and this man sees value and potential in this broken man. “Did I see a spark of something in that man’s eyes?” the slave wonders. It couldn’t be, but his hope rises as the gentle man pays the price, brings him home, clothes him, and feeds him richly. His master does love him!

Do you recognize this picture? I hope so. It’s a picture of your life in Christ. You and I were once slaves on the auction block of sin. We stood broken by sin. Yet our loving and gentle Master—for reasons we may never know, and for reasons not found in us—saw value in us. And He paid for our freedom with His own blood, on a cross.

Through Jesus Christ, we’ve been freed from bondage. But that’s not the end, only the beginning. We must move on and ask the question, “What have we been freed for?” The answer: for Jesus Christ!

We’ve been freed by Christ, for Christ. That is, so we might serve Him, praise Him, and give Him glory.

– Steve Arterburn

“To obey God is Freedom.” – Seneca the Younger (5 B.C.–A.D. 65)

Who is Jesus Christ?

But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:15–16

Who is Jesus Christ?

Talking about Jesus elicits many responses from people. Some are outraged by Him. Others adore Him as the Son of God and Forgiver of sins. Some think he’s a prophet or humanitarian—a great moral teacher. Others remain disinterested and indifferent. What others think isn’t important. What do you think? Who do you think Jesus is?

Quite often people choose to not answer this question. But, no answer is an answer. It’s the most serious question in life, and it deserves the most serious consideration.

As C. S. Lewis wisely observed, if Jesus Christ wasn’t a self-deluded lunatic, and he wasn’t a blatant liar, there’s only one other possible alternative: Jesus Christ was God himself.

Who is Jesus Christ to you—lunatic, liar, or Lord?

– Steve Arterburn

I don’t try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.” – Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

Honor This Sacrifice

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

Honor This Sacrifice

Becoming God’s man or woman hinges upon what motivates you. Scripture is clear regarding what should motivate us: Gratitude for what Jesus Christ did for us in willingly going to the cross—gratitude in every aspect of life. God’s beloved Son, Jesus, gave His life as a sacrifice so that we could have eternal life with God. It sounds funny but we find our life in Christ’s death and resurrection.

Commenting on this theme back in the late 1800s, British preacher Charles Spurgeon said that, ultimately, there was only one motivation strong enough to give us vitality and staying power in the Christian life: “The most potent motive for holiness is free grace and we should be moved by gratitude to a height of dedication and purity and obedience that mere legalism can never know.”

Hear that? Gratitude for grace. Our life in Christ isn’t something we can earn; it’s found in God’s grace. And for this we need to express gratitude daily. I pray this good news will liberate you as you follow the One who, by grace, has brought you from death to life.

– Steve Arterburn

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” – Lionel Hampton (1908–2002)

Family Influence

All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. – Isaiah 54:13

Family Influence

Our ideas about God are first shaped—and very powerfully so—by our families. So it’s little wonder that as relationships within the family have declined, so has the understanding of what it means to have and maintain a relationship with God.

As divorced and overworked parents spend less time with their kids, the concept of a personal God and Savior becomes less clear and less meaningful. An absent father sets the framework for a child who views God as absent too. And a passive father leaves his children wondering if God can or will become involved in their problems and day-to-day struggles.

I’m pointing to the men for two reasons. The first reason is so you men can begin to identify how your family environment growing up has subtly shaped your thoughts and beliefs about God. If your experience has been positive, great! If it hasn’t, please let the present, active, loving Father correct your thinking and heal your heart. Turn to Him and see that He is good.

The second reason is that many of you are fathers yourselves or will be. Your children are watching and listening to you more than you think. And you influence them—and their thinking about God—more than you know. I want to encourage you, men, to walk with Jesus Christ! For those of you who’ve had the blessing of good parenting: pass it on. For those of you who haven’t: let the wreckage stop with you!

Steve Arterburn

“Our children give us the opportunity to become the parents we always wished we’d had.” – Louise Hart (1881–1950)

Narrow and Healthy

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Narrow and Healthy

A friend of mine once wrote a children’s book about heaven. When checking out the reviews of his book, he came across a reviewer who said she was attracted by the book’s title and artwork. Then she noted how her excitement was replaced by dismay when the author claimed the only way to heaven was through Jesus Christ. The reviewer was deeply offended by what she called the book’s “obvious bias against non- Christians.”

We live in times where tolerance and diversity are the buzz words—particularly in the world of religion. How could any faith be called “healthy” that claimed only one way to God?

But have you listened to the advocates of this thought? Their message is that the way to salvation is through our moral virtue. “Be good, do good, and it’ll all work out.

My problem with that is this: I’m not that good a person—certainly not good enough to stand before God on the basis of my own feeble virtue. What about you?

As unpopular as it might be, the truth is, we are all sinners. But thankfully God made a way for us to come to Him and not be seen as such—through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. Maybe it’s narrow—but it’s true!

– Steve Arterburn

Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to teach the teachable. He did not come to improve the improvable; He did not come to reform the reformable. None of those things works.” – Robert Farrarr Capon (1925– )