Take the Risk!


Some of us are rather doubtful about our place in the world and even more so about our place with those that we care about. This is commonly referred to as insecurity and it stems from any number of things. Some say certain personality types are prone to it (like the folks who use the Enneagram to start meaningful conversations). Others consider formative experiences early in life to be a root cause, or to some particular trauma that looms heavy in the person’s consciousness. A lot has been written on the subject, both in the popular and professional press*.

Whatever the seed that planted insecurity in our souls, the truth is that if that seed germinates in a soil fertile with bitterness, anger, unresolved emotional need, or hunger for “significance”, it will sprout into a vicious, virulent, venomous plant that will bring painful misery to those stricken with its poison.

If we consider ourselves Christ followers, it is important to recognize this reality, because our relationship with God is not immune to insecurity’s poison, but may indeed be most vulnerable. Why?


It all has to do with how we see ourselves in relation to God; how we relate to Him. A few questions may enlighten those unaware of insecurity’s grip on their own life:

  • How do I think that I acquire the approval of God?
  • Do I try win God’s affections through doing stuff?
  • What happens when I fail?
  • How do I try to make my failure alright in God’s eyes?
  • How do I know when enough is enough? Will it ever be enough?
  • If I think I can never do enough for Him:
    • Does it anger me?
    • Do I love Him? Hate him? Hide from Him? Rage at Him?
    • Do I feel helpless?
    • Do I hope against all hope that He might love and accept me anyway?

It takes courage to answer these questions honestly, even to ourselves. It can be costly. We act. We don’t always know why.  Insecurity with God stems from our need to be the actor rather than the acted upon, i.e., we try to earn His love and affection rather than receiving them as the gift that they are.

Inner Workings

We do well to remember that emotion and intellect do not react to stimuli in the same way. Intellect can understand and accept a theologically correct answer to all this, while the emotions may feel left out in the cold, as it were, waiting for . . . something. Healing, perhaps. (If you’re a Trekkie, it’s like Mr. Spock vs. Dr. McCoy.)

We need both intellectual and emotional stability to be healthy. One depends upon the integrity of the other. Both impact our spiritual maturity and our ability to accept God’s loving discipline as discipline and not rejection. The truth is that our Father disciplines us as his children. Though discipline isn’t enjoyable, it flows from love, not indiscriminate anger or abuse. It is meant to be corrective, so that we will be mature and complete.

Hence, it is crucial that we fertilize the soil of our hearts with Truth. We must take the Gardener’s tools and uproot bitterness, unrestrained anger, and hunger for so-called significance if we are to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom. What does it look like to weed the garden?

Truth becomes real to both the emotions and intellect in the interplay between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. This connection is most effective when we pray. We take our minds, souls, bodies, and spirits into God’s presence to forge a relationship that depends not upon a great mountain of our good deeds, but the simple, straightforward reality of His One Good Deed.

Let’s Face our fear

Let us consider the following as we face our fear and walk into the prayer closet:

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory for ever and ever! Amen”

—Revelation 1:5-6, NIV

The more our sin, hurt, inadequacy, and anger is laid open before the eyes of a loving God, the more healing  and rest we will find in Him. Truth burns away the deceit of our sin and the misunderstanding of our pain.

Because it can be a painful process, some of us will, no doubt, resist the challenge to be vulnerable. We are afraid of the possibility of pain and rejection and suffering. Take the risk. Here’s a bit of Truth to bolster your courage:

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?”

—Romans 8:31,35, NLT

Take the risk!


*A good starting point for understanding insecurity and co-dependency is a book published by the Minirth-Meier Clinic in the early 1990’s: Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships. It was originally published in 1991 and has been revised and reprinted several times since then and made available in electronic formats such as Kindle. Click on the title above to link to the Amazon Kindle store.


Fear’s Funeral Dirge

“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

Revelation 1:17-18, NLT

What is your experience like when you sit down with a hot drink and an open Bible? Why do you go there? What do you hope to draw out of the word?

Sometimes I come to the Scriptures hungry and needy and melancholy and desperate. I have waited too long and now I come, realizing that I am not enough. Ever. I come wondering if my lingering delay has damaged intimacy with Him. I come realizing that the depth of my own dysfunction clouds my thinking and incites fears that need not persist.

Pushing my fears aside and choosing to believe the Truth, I open my Bible, and then . . .

There is a tremor in my spirit. All my longings are concentrated into a single moment and I am confronted with holiness. I am in the presence of the Ancient of Days, the One Now Living, and the One Who Is to Come. There is no other like Him.

In His presence, I am completely exposed for who I really am. There can be no pretense. It is risky to try to pull the wool over the eyes of the God Who Sees Me. I must come to Him honestly, candidly—nothing to hide—ready to admit all, confess all, release all. He is the Lord. I am His servant. It must be so, for I am a missionary who lives from day to day in a country not my own, living and working in someone else’s culture and language, trying desperately to make it possible for them to come to the Scriptures and experience God through the word in their heart language.

Yet sometimes fear sings fortissimo. I need it to sing fortepiano. I need my spirit to not be overcome by the volume and painful pitch of fear in a situation, but to immediately quiet it to little more than a whisper in the background. Fear sings its loudest dirge when death is at hand, like in the days following my oldest brother’s death a few months ago. A mere fifty-six years old, he died in the night, sitting in his favorite chair, alone, of a heart attack. I am not much younger . . .

The Scriptures teach me much about life after death, but the experience of death remains a mystery. Before I moved to Papua New Guinea I had images of this beautiful land fixed in my mind. There was something magical about the imagined New Guinea. But the imaginary New Guinea lacked the intense heat and suffocating humidity, the pungent smells, the sounds of a thousand tongues and the complex relationships that must be cultivated in order for Jesus to be known here. It was but a dream. Even though I had talked often with others who had long lived here, the experience was still not my own.

Some of the images used in this composite are courtesy of

I talk with Jesus about death. I must. He’s been through it and this is what he says to me about it: “Don’t be afraid! I died, but I am alive—forevermore!” That tremor returns to my spirit. I am in the presence of Someone so holy and powerful that death itself has no hold on Him. I am overwhelmed with awe. But He’s not finished: “I hold the keys to death and the grave.”

Courage, dear friend. Courage! When the deceiver threatens your very life, take courage in the fact that death has no sting and the enemy of our souls is not in charge. Jesus alone holds the keys. You were made that you might shake the foundations of hell by shattering the deceptions and empty threats of a defeated enemy. Let the only tremor you feel in your spirit be in response to the holiness and overwhelming power of the Risen One.


Clear Voices

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

John 1:11


We live in perilous times. Truth is considered by many a personal choice. The lines blur between reality and fantasy as people are bombarded by fake news, revised versions of “history”, and augmented reality devices become widely available and sought after by the masses. The glut of untested and undocumented information creates an atmosphere of confusion. People are losing their capacity to discern truth from error.

Nothing New Under the sun

Similar confusion existed when the long promised Messiah arrived on earth in a little town called Bethlehem. Rome had conquered the world, administrated by men like Pontius Pilate who famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Cities were completely given over to idolatry, sensuality, and self. Slavery was the technology of industry. Mob rule ensued when the economy was threatened (or was perceived to be threatened).

Closer to the Truth

Standing in high relief against the vice of the Roman world were the Jewish people with their laws and traditions and worship of the true God. Yet they were divided. Some Jewish leaders thought that political upheaval was the answer, hence the Zealots. Others thought that strict adherence to the Law was the answer (Pharisees). Their authorities abused this conviction by adding law upon law, making it impossible for anyone to live “righteously”. Sadducees were something like Jewish nihilists, teaching that there is no resurrection, only the grave. Despite so many competing voices, there was great anticipation that God would send his Anointed One, the promised Prophet, Priest, and King.

Most thought he would be a political deliverer who would restore Israel to her former glory, as in the days of David or Solomon. Though they held the Holy Scriptures in their hands, they did not discern well. They interpreted reality (and prophecies) through the lens of their own aspirations, dreams, and desires. Their idea of a Messiah was not God’s idea of a Messiah.

So when Messiah arrived, they neither recognized nor received him.

A Clear Voice for Grace and Truth

One clear voice emerged to set things straight: John the Baptizer. John was eccentric, a prophet in the truest sense. He lived apart in the wilderness. He ate whatever he could find in that arid land.  He called people to turn back to God, baptizing and preparing a people for the arrival of God’s Promised One. He did so fearlessly.

Photo courtesy of

But being a prophet can be dangerous business. Truth alienates (and often angers) those ducking for the shadows. Truth tellers push the keepers of the status quo to the limit. Pharisees and Sadducees make odd bedfellows, yet they united against both John and the One he was preparing for.

In an age of confusion, though, people look for clarity–especially when it comes to the will of God. Ordinary people were drawn to John because he both understood and taught that Jesus’ mission was to be “the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.” Who will declare this good news to our generation?

Your clear voice is needed

We need many John the Baptizers in our generation. We need clear voices calling out above the din and roar of partisan politics, social media, and personal comfort.

Will you be a clear voice in your generation?  Will you risk looking weird, wild, and wooly to speak Truth? Our generation will never find clarity in this chaos if we don’t bring it.

Take a risk. Shake the gates of hell by standing out in high relief from this generation as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Lead people to the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  

Jesus is mounting his white horse, adorning himself in white robes, taking up his sword and preparing to come. We dare not delay.

Will our generation receive him?