Stop Beating Yourself Up!

August 25, 2014 — 6 Comments

Often times we are the last ones willing to forgive ourselves for sins of the past.  So often I see people beat themselves up for years, even decades, for yesterday’s failures.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Jesus made it possible for you to be free.

Forgive Yourself

Forgive Yourself

I don’t know what it is for you…

*A friend you hurt

*An opportunity you did not take

*A marriage that failed

*Time you didn’t spend with your kids

*An addiction you allowed to consume you

*Or something else…

Maybe you have asked God for forgiveness and you even believe he has forgiven you, but you still beat yourself up over and over again for the failure.  You may have even said to yourself, I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t forgive myself.

But is that even possible?  How can you accept God’s forgiveness and not forgive yourself?

The forgiveness God has granted us was costly.  Jesus shed his blood and died a sinner’s death to satisfy justice and make pardon possible for you.

To say God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself, is to say I really have not fully accepted the forgiveness of God.  How can anyone look at Christ crucified and then not allow the full impact of that divine act to have its’ ultimate effect in your life?

Instead, I look at what Jesus did…”died for sins once for all”…and I am compelled to say, Jesus paid it all. (1 Peter 3:18)  He took the full punishment for my transgression.  And so, there is no more spiritual penalty to be levied.  I am free!

Which means God does not hold that sin against me any longer.  The Bible says, “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Did you get that?  No condemnation.  Jesus was condemned on the cross, so that your sins would be paid in full.  In Christ your guilt is removed.  REMOVED!

So stop beating yourself up!  Accept the grace of God.

Some of you even beat yourself up for sins that were committed against you.  You think like it was your fault, when it was not.

Some examples of this are…

*A person who was sexually molested

*A child whose parents divorced

*A person whose spouse cheated

Sometimes we have been abused or disappointed and we beat ourselves up for allowing it to happen.   Or we feel it was our fault, when it was not.  Or we believe that if we just did things differently, it would not have happened.  But that does not serve us well.  We need to forgive others, yes.  But we must forgive ourselves, knowing that Christ has made such forgiveness possible and freeing in our lives.

I know what some of you are saying, “Greg, you don’t know what I have done.”  Maybe so, but one thing I do know.  Jesus died for your sin, all of it.  And if you accept the mercy of Jesus, you must forgive yourself in response to his forgiveness.

So, today, “Let it go!”  Declare that this is the day where beating yourself up over the past comes to an end.  Determine to let the full impact of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross set you free from self torment.

Question:  How has Christ set you free by the power of forgiveness?  Encourage others by leaving a comment.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

There is such an excitement in the air when it is time for the kids to go back to school:  new clothes, new shoes, new backpacks and lunch boxes.  It is fun to go to the store and buy fresh erasers, pencils, and folders.  It is a new start to a year of learning and growing.

Back To School, Back To Church

Back To School, Back To Church

We are feeling this excitement at the Faulls house.  Just a few days ago we dropped off our 1st Grader and our 10th Grader at their schools.  Tomorrow I will help my daughter, who is a Junior in college this year, get moved back onto campus.  Next week I send my son to the university for his Freshman year.

But this is not only a thrilling time as people get back to school, it is also a wonderful time to get back into a more regular schedule at church.

In our congregation we are gearing up for a Fall rich with opportunities to grow spiritually, strengthen the family, and make a difference in the world.  Other churches all over our community are doing the same.

That makes me think, are you ready for a new year going to and growing with your local church family?  After a summer of vacations and slower routines, are you committed to get into a devoted routine at church?

I hope you are?  Why?

Because it makes a difference.

How so?

Consider these benefits…

  1. The family gets to do something spiritual together.
  2. You are a part of something bigger than yourself.
  3. Your kids get to grow in their faith through your example and the example of others.
  4. You feel the strength of doing life, spiritual life, with a larger group of people.
  5. You get to partner with others to make a difference in the world.

So let’s not just get back to school.

Let’s, with excitement, get back to church!

Question:  What are things you most love about your local church?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I just got back from helping conduct a funeral.  The precious lady who had passed was only 57 years old.  You would think that the tone of the service would be tragic.  But it was anything but.  It was a celebration.

Leave A Legacy

Leave A Legacy

Of course the family did not want their loved one to die so young.  She had a husband, several children, and many grandkids who would have loved to have held on to her life for decades longer.  But it was still a celebration.

How was this possible?  It was because she lived her life well.  She lived in such a way as to leave a legacy.  Her children will miss her, but she taught them so well how to love and care for one another that it is obvious they will carry on her tradition of love and family.

Watching this family, in tears, show honor and gratitude for the years they had with their wife and mom was inspirational.  She had left a legacy that would continue to last well in the future.

Are you living your life in such a fashion that you will leave a positive legacy behind you?

Here are some thoughts on what any of us can do to leave a positive legacy…

  1. Make God central to all you do.  The most powerful personalities are people who have wrapped the entirety of their lives around faith in the Lord.  This is what being a follower of Jesus is all about.
  2. Love others and look to serve.  Jesus taught us to serve.  Our influence in people’s lives is founded on the value we add to their lives.  This is done when we serve their best interest.  Parents and grandparents have amazing opportunities to do this in the lives of their kids and grandkids.  But anyone can have this impact by just looking to add value to the people around them.
  3. Be an example, not an enabler.  This is an important principle for parents.  We want to teach our children, not just provide for them.  We want to give them all we can and serve them.  But even more importantly we need to teach them to do the things we do for them.  What was so amazing about this woman whose funeral I participated in today was that though she was the glue that held the family together, the family was not going to fall apart when she was gone.  She had done more than just care for her family.  She taught her husband and kids to do the same.  She expected them to do the same and they caught her vision.  We need to do more than just serve others, we need to teach and expect them to do the same.  Then when we are gone, they will carry on the legacy.
  4. Live honorably over a long period of time.  None of us are perfect.  We never will be.  But legacy is left when we are honorable over time, when we do good and live right over and over again.
  5. Treat others with dignity and respect.  This is what attracts people to us and builds influence.  You give this and people want to follow you, they want to be like you.
  6. Handle challenges with faith and courage.  This lady who we honored today had fought a five year battle with cancer.  The cancer ultimately took her body.  But it never defeated her spirit.  She chose courage, kindness, and grace through her journey of illness.  I am sure she was not perfect all the time, but she was consistent in her grace and courage.  This was powerful to her family and gave them courage.  It taught them to live well and to end well.  What an amazing legacy.

Live by these six principles and your life will have impact long after you are gone.

Question:  Do you know someone who has inspired you with the way they have lived life?  Who are they and what about them inspires you to live well?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Find God In Your Tears

August 7, 2014 — 6 Comments

I shed tears today.  The emotion hit me hard.  It had been building for awhile.  I felt sad, really sad.  But I also found myself very aware of the presence of God.

Finding God In Tears

Finding God In Tears

You might wonder what led me to tears.  Well our emotions are rarely simple.  I guess I had a variety of things that tugged on my heart.  I had ministered that day to someone whose mother suffered a terminal illness.  I was stressed about some deadlines.  I hadn’t slept much the night before.  I had a really good conversation with my oldest daughter’s boyfriend about what made my daughter special.  We had a really cool talk.

I had all of these things on my mind and then I thought of one more thing…my second child, my son.  He would be leaving for college in two weeks.  It hit me like a punch to the gut.  I froze… tried to hold back the tears, but I couldn’t.  I wept.

My son is not just my son, but also my friend.  His world is about to change as he launches from home.  But my world is also going to be altered forever.  The transition wrenches my heart.

This same feeling hit me two years ago when my daughter left for school.  I know it is normal.

And I guess that is the point.  Our tears are normal, even beautiful.

One of my favorite moments in Jesus’ ministry was when he came to the grieving family of Lazarus.  He saw Lazarus’ loved ones crying over the death of this man.  Those of you who know the story know that Jesus was going to raise this man from the dead.

Here he was, watching this family wail in grief over someone he was about to return to them.  He was going to fix the situation.  You would think that he would shout at them and say, “Hey, suck it up.  Stop your crying.  I am going to raise Lazarus.  You have nothing legitimate to cry about.”

But he didn’t say that.  Instead, do you know what he did?  He wept. (John 11:35)

He cried with them.  Knowing full well that he was going to raise this man, he first joined with them in their tears.

Wow!  Jesus sees fellowship in tears.  He sees the importance of feeling our feelings.  He even mingles his tears with ours.

So when I weep over a change in my life or family…God is with me in the tears.  I am not alone.  When I weep for joy…he is with me.  When I weep in pain…he is there.

God is with me in my emotions, in my feelings.

Maybe some of you are thinking right now…this blog is getting a little sappy.  Maybe so, but I think I am making a point that is salient to us all.

We all feel our emotions.  They play a huge part in our lives.  The point I am making is that God is with us in them, even when our emotions are about a pain that he knows he is going to someday deliver us from.  That is irrelevant.  What is relevant is that God is with us not only in the deliverance or the solution.  God is even with us in the sadness, the bewilderment, the frustration and anger before the solution is ever worked out.

God is there.

So today, when you feel your feelings (whatever they may be) know that God is with you in the midst of them.

Question:  How have you experienced God in the midst of tears?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Over the years I have seen many relationships ruptured because of careless communications in email, texting, and social media.  It is sad, because it is so avoidable.

Communicate Wisely

Communicate Wisely

It says in James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

In other words, it is important to think before you communicate difficult things.

The technology that allows us to connect with more people in less time is amazing.  We have greater potential to meaningfully connect with others than ever before.  This is a good thing.  But if this powerful technology is used without wisdom it can be disastrous.

I have seen people scar relationships, wound reputations, spread confusion and misinformation, through unwise communications.  I have seen people lose their jobs because of things they chose to air out in a text or on social media.

So here are some words of wisdom that can help you avoid a texting, social media, or email communications disaster…

  1. Assume that anything you communicate electronically can go public.  Why?  Because it can go public, especially if you have communicated something hurtful.  Furthermore, it could go public by accident.  Someone can click the wrong button and now it has been sent to their entire address book.  You don’t want that if your communication is sensitive.  It is best that whatever you put in print is something that you would not be embarrassed to say in public.
  2. Don’t express anger or sarcasm in written electronic media.  This can be very confusing and very hurtful.  If you have a need to work through stress in a relationship, it is best if you will work it out in person.  Too many people think texting their mess will be easier, but often it only makes the problem more complex and harder to fix.
  3. Be cautious about using ALL CAPS in your communication.  This is not good.  All caps have the impact of screaming.  That may be how you feel in the moment, but do you really want it on a message file on someone’s phone?
  4. Don’t say hurtful or negative things about people through electronic media.  You are the one that ends up looking bad.  Furthermore, you hurt people’s reputations in unfair ways.  I have often seen someone unfairly trash someone on Facebook.  Then all that person’s friends jump on the bandwagon.  But most of those people know nothing of the situation.  What an awful mess.  Perceptions in people’s minds might never be corrected by the truth.
  5. Be cautious about sharing your most disturbed thoughts electronically.  Everybody has dark thoughts or emotions at times.  But to flesh that all out on Facebook is unwise.  Share these kinds of things with a trusted friend over the phone or in person.  But don’t text these things or place them for the world to see on Facebook.  Not everyone will understand your heart.
  6. Don’t slam your boss, co-workers, or subordinates in electronic media.  This will only show you to be immature and unfit for the job you have.  If you have a grievance with someone, go to them privately.  Never take it publically or push it out in electric media where it can go viral.  I have seen people lose their jobs over this one.
  7. Don’t send confidential information electronically unless you know it is secure.  I’ll let you determine what you think is secure.  But this should just be common sense.
  8. Always proof read your communications before you push “Send.”  Typos or Autocorrect functions can sometimes really get you in trouble.  I have developed the habit of reading every email, text, or post at least once before hitting “send.”  I don’t always catch every mistake, but I have avoided a lot of embarrassment over the years by doing this.  It takes more time, but it is worth it.
  9. When you need to communicate difficult things to someone that would violate some of the above principles, instead call and communicate over the phone or in person.  Sure this might be more difficult, but it is worth it.  Relationships matter.  They are the stuff of life.  It is worth working through issues in a healthy matter.
  10. When you are drafting an email, text, or post on social media, imagine that it will be posted on a billboard on a major thoroughfare in your town.  I know it probably won’t, but it is a good exercise to go through.  It can help you think twice about what you will say on electronic media.

Question:  What are some other things you can do to avoid the pitfalls of electronic communication?  Help the rest of us by sharing your ideas.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

In two weeks by oldest child goes back to college for her junior year and my newly graduated second child heads off for his freshman year at the university.  I can’t help but get emotional thinking about it.  Questions fire off in a parent’s head during such moments.  “Did I rear them right?  Did I prepare them for life’s ups and downs?  Are they spiritually ready to continue walking with God without me to prod them?”

Aim To Rear A Spiritual Adult

Aim To Rear A Spiritual Adult

What has been my aim these past two decades of parenting?  Simple.  My wife and I have had one primary target we have been shooting for in our parenting.  We wanted to rear our children to be spiritual adults by the time they were heading out from the home.

What do I mean by spiritual adult?  We wanted more than just our kids accepting Christ, being baptized, and growing up in church.  We wanted our children to be equipped to take personal responsibility for their own spiritual life and disciplines.

We wanted them to have a vision for how they would walk with God on their own and answer their unique calling given them by God.  We wanted them to see themselves, not as church kids, but as young grown-ups that are just as responsible for their own spiritual lives and the ministry of the church as any other adult of any other age.

So far I am seeing my kids step up to this vision of their lives.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do not have perfect kids.  But I do see in my young adult children that they are taking personal responsibility for the spiritual course of their lives.  For that I am very gratified.

So what does a parent do to prepare a child to be a spiritual adult?  Here are a few things…

  1. Aim to rear a spiritual adult.  Get this goal in your head.  If you your kid is just a couple of days old.  It is never too early to set your direction for your desired destination.  Let this shape your prayers.  If you keep this goal in your sights, you will be amazed at how God will lead you to help your child on their spiritual journey.
  2. Be a spiritual adult yourself.  You simply must be the example.  Duplicity in the home can drive children from faith and the church for a lifetime.  But when children see a parent that takes their faith seriously (though imperfectly) it is a powerful thing.  What does it mean to be a spiritual adult?  It means you take personal responsibility for your own spiritual growth and obedience to the Lord.  You take the initiative to read the scriptures, obey God’s bidding in your life, support the church, and share your faith.
  3. Cast vision, starting young.  When my kids were young, I would often tuck them in at night and pray with them.  When I did, I would cast vision into their little hearts.  I would say, “God loves you so much.  He wants you to accept his Son Jesus.  He wants you to serve him and do great things to spread his kingdom.”  Their eyes will be wide and their hearts receptive to this great kingdom vision that is being cast for them.  Children need to know that their lives are ordered by God and that God has a journey for them to follow.
  4. Go to church.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  By no means am I saying that church going is all it takes to keep a family on track spiritually.  That would not be true.  But not being in church can have a detrimental impact on faith.  God did not save us to be individuals.  He saved us to come together as his church.  Without our togetherness, we never become all God wants for us.  When your children are in church and see you active and involve, they know that faith is important.  Furthermore, they meet many other faith-filled role models that inspire them and encourage them.
  5. Live faith at home.  If all you do is live faith out at church your children get the wrong message.  They begin to believe faith is just for the church house.  God is not relevant at home, work, or school.  If you are going to teach your children to live full on for God, they must see that Christ is present in every venue of life.  Pray at meals.  Talk about God in casual conversation.  Answer their questions about God when they raise them.  Lean on God when times are tough and give God the glory when his activity in your life is evident.  And declare your faith in God even when it seems God is not answering your desperate prayers.  Your kids need to see that God is prevailing over every aspect of your lives.
  6. Walk with them in the early years.  When my children were young, I read them the Bible and prayed with them consistently.  When they got older, I encouraged them to do more of that on their own and I did it with them occasionally.  When they became a teen I encouraged them in their spiritual disciplines and expected that they would do them on their own.  I have been encouraged by my son who is on his seventh reading through the Bible.
  7. Begin passing the baton in the early teens.  With my children, around the age of 11-12 I begin to encourage them to seek God on their own.  I tell them, they have found it easy to believe depending on us.  But now is the time for them to pursue an experience with God that is just between the Lord and them.  This is a great time to do this, because they are entering the Youth years at church where many camps, conferences, and spiritual trips provide many venues for experiencing God on their own.
  8. Encourage faith building activities.  This can be an event at church, Sunday School, or a service project.  It might even be a faith stretching act of obedience on the part of your family.  Years ago, God led us to adopt.  Our biological children were a part of the faith stretching experiences that this endeavor demanded of us spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  My kids learned about sacrifice, generosity, and trust at that time.
  9. Model and encourage missional service.  I love our church.  We encourage the kids to volunteer for ministry and mission.  All my children have been encouraged to volunteer their time and talent for many different ministries and projects to share the gospel, help the poor, or minister to the hurting.  My wife and I have a plan to see that each of our children have a foreign mission trip experience before they go off to college.  The impact of this has been immeasurable in our home.
  10. Expect them to be spiritual adults as they come of age.  I speak of this often with my kids.  I expect them to make the right decisions.  I hope I don’t nag (they might argue that I do).  But I do expect that they will carry on their practice of faith as they go to college.  My daughter is one of the leaders at her Christian Student Ministry.  My son has already been making plans of his own to be involved in a particular Christian ministry on his campus and looks forward to finding a church in his college town.

I hope you find these helpful as you aim to rear children to become spiritual adults.

Special Note:  I am dedicating this post to my very special wife, Stefanie Faulls.  Most of the credit for rearing children who love God simply must go to her.  She is amazing and deserves most of the credit for impacting our kids for Christ.

Question:  What are suggestions you would add to this list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I have often seen my Summers as times to prepare for the coming year.  It is a great time for your personal pace to change for a short period as you prepare to launch into another cycle on the calendar.

Preparing For The Coming Year

Preparing For The Coming Year

Sure, I know, it is New Years that typically gets all the press for another year beginning.  But the truth is most young families see the start of the school year in August to be the real launch of a new year.  The kids are all entering a new grade of school, you are buying them a new wardrobe for the year, it is time to get back to class, back to the normal routine, and back to a new year at church.

That is why your Summer is a great time spiritually and organizationally to prepare for the coming year.  I find, for me, the Summer is an intense time of preparation.  In some ways things slow down for me, but in other ways my work intensifies.

Where my work intensifies is in the area of preparation.  Currently I am on a month long Study Rotation.  Most Pastor’s call this a “Study Break.”  But I hardly take a break during this time.  In fact in the area of preparation I work more strenuously during these weeks than perhaps any other season.  I read, research, write, and plan for my teaching, preaching, and leadership for the next year.

All of us can use our Summer to spiritually and practically plan for the coming months.  Here are a few ways you can use your Summer to prepare…

  1. Regain your spiritual focus.  This can be a great time to get back in the Scriptures and drink deeply from God’s Word as you prepare your heart to follow the Lord into another year.  When I was 18 years old and gearing up to go to college, I used the Summer to read the entire New Testament.  I read three chapters a day for three months.  When I started school, the Word of God was fresh on my heart and mind.  It prepared me to see God’s handiwork all around me.  Last Summer I read the entire Bible in just six weeks.  Talk about an immersion.  Not everyone can do that, but I am telling you it impacted me deeply.  This Summer I have been reading and re-reading 1 Peter in preparation for a series I will preach in the Fall.  I am seeing things I have never before seen and truly sense God speaking to me about the spiritual future of the people of our congregation.
  2. Evaluate your previous year.  Every year at this time I do a lot of reflecting on my previous year.  To be honest this one can be painful.  Even when my year has been filled with successes, I most always have some regrets where I believe I missed an opportunity or dropped a ball.  But as painful as this process can be, it is so helpful in planning for the next year.  If I am honest about things that need improvement, then I am more prepared to make a bigger impact in the year to come.
  3. Set some goals and make some plans.  This is what I am in the process of doing now.  Those goals and plans include several areas of my life.  Sure they involve my job and career, but they also include ways I want to go to another level in my marriage, parenting, and personal development.  The biggest key to setting goals and making plans is to write them down and place the tasks on the calendar.  After that, roll up your sleeves and get started.  Action is the only way to get momentum toward the fulfillment of your plans.
  4. Get some rest and have some fun.  This is important.  I am still trying to learn this and have a long way to go.  As a workaholic by nature, I find this a serious challenge.  But it is vital.  There needs to be some decompress time in order to have a refreshed mind and soul for the coming year.  Recreation is all about being re-created into a more refreshed person.

Question:  What are ways that you use the Summer to get ready for the coming year?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Recently I blogged about how the changes we face can expand our lives.  I also posted about the fears we often encounter when we consider following God through a change.  Today I am going to share with you six principles for navigating change.

Navigating Change

Navigating Change

Many of you may be facing some changes that God is preparing for you to make.  My oldest son is preparing for his Freshman year of college.  He is facing big changes that will impact every area of his experience.  He knows these changes are of God and is thoughtful about how God wants to use him in this new chapter of his life.

You might be facing the need for change in your family, school, work, or ministry.  You might even be faced with the task of leading others through change.  By the way, leading others through change is one of life’s most difficult endeavors.  I have been spending all my adult life helping people navigate change.  It is tough stuff.

Let’s look at the Old Testament leader, Joshua, to learn principles for navigating change.  Joshua was the God called successor to Moses.  His task was to lead the people to cross the Jordan and conquer and inhabit the Promised Land.  It was a daunting task and would change everyone’s life.  They had to step out of the familiar, risk, and enter into the unknown.

Principles for navigating change.  (Joshua 1)

1. The purpose principle.  Ask the right question:  Is the change you see before you meant to fulfill the purposes of God?  When Joshua considered his task he saw that the change was God’s plan.  God even said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)  Is the change that is being made being done to do God’s will?  If so, move forward.

2. The trust principle.  If the change is of God and is for the fulfillment of his purpose, then it is your task to trust God and step ahead.  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)  What God calls you to do he will empower you to do.  Trust him.

3. The obedience principle.  When God calls you to do something and you are sure it is of God, then it becomes a matter of obedience.  The Lord told Joshua and the people, “be careful to obey all the law” and he said, “do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth…be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7-8)  For the people of God, success is obeying the Lord.

4. The courage principle.  Follow the command to be strong and courageous!  Over and over again God calls Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:9)  We must realize that doing this is a choice we make.  We say to children:  “Be a big boy or be a big girl.”  We are asking them to choose to be bolder and stronger.  This is a command and we choose to follow it or not.  God knew Joshua was afraid, that is why he gave this command.  He said, “Be tough, after all I will never leave you or forsake you.  What is there to fear with Me on your side.”  Obeying the courage command is key to navigating through change.  It can make the difference between being steady or panicked.  The courage principle is really all about starting with changing yourself.  Adapting to change is 100% about making the change on the inside.

5. The team principle.  When changing, it is good to do it as a team.  Many of you will face changes in the organization of your business, school, or even at church.  When such changes are happening, are you a team player in the change or are you simply a resister.  When Joshua led the people to take the Land, he called all the tribes to help each other secure their portions of the nation.  Everyone was to help everyone else.  Are you working to help the entire team navigate the change?  When an organization is going through change you can carry a bucket or a gas can.  When there is a fire (negative talk or gossip) you can choose to add fuel to the fire or to douse the flame.

6. The “Just Do It” principle.  Make the change.  With Joshua and the Israelites there came a moment when the people just decided to make the change.  They said, “wherever you send us we will go.” (Joshua 1:16)  Just do it!  Be a leader and navigate the change.  You will grow and gain, though the way may be full of twists and turns.

Question:  What change is God calling you into?  Which of these principles most encourages you in making the change?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

In a previous post I wrote about change being an opportunity to expand your life.  The problem is often we allow our fear to paralyze us from ever seizing such opportunities.  Change is guaranteed in life.  Why do we resist it?

Fear Of Change

I have always found the Old Testament hero, Joshua, inspiring.  God called him to face his fears and lead the people of Israel to invade and conquer the Promised Land.  I would encourage you to read of God’s call on Joshua. (Joshua 1)

This Old Testament man of God had several reasons to fear the changes into which he was to lead the people.

Consider the fears he might have experienced when he faced his life changing task…

  1. Fear of the unknown.  They had little battle experience.  There was a divine promise that they would gain the land, but there was not a promise that they would attain the land unscathed.  They would have to strive and fight.  They would have to risk and sacrifice.  Even when God promises us a victorious future, he also calls us to enter battles and face uncertainties.
  2. Fear for survival.  The enemy forces were intimidating.  Joshua and the people could have thought that they might lose the fight.  Sometimes change scares us because we fear that we will lose something and that our lives will be irreparably diminished.  Are there changes you are facing that make you fear that you will lose your position with others or the routine to which you have become accustomed?  As a leader of a church, I have often had the task of leading our organization through change.  Almost always, there are a few people who resist the change.  Usually they do because they fear the loss of something they are comfortable with.  Sometimes they fear losing a position they have enjoyed filling.  Often these fears are unfounded, though sometimes change does eliminate things they have come to love.  The only way to face such a fear is to trust that God has something else for you on the other side of the change.  It might be different, but God is bringing the change so that you will join him in a different adventure.
  3. Fear of failure.  He had witnessed a previous failure.  Forty years before the people refused to advance into the Promised Land.  Only Joshua and Caleb had spoken for obeying God at that time.  Often when we face changes our minds go back to times when we experienced painful failure.  Those failures of the past can be magnified in our minds paralyzing us from embracing the changes that could stretch us and expand our opportunities.  Beware of the fear of failure.  It just might keep you from one of the greatest successes of your life.
  4. Fear of inadequacy.  Joshua was following a legend.  Moses had led the people for four decades.  God had used his predecessor to free the people from Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and receive the Ten Commandments.  It would be difficult to fill Moses’ sandals.   He had not performed miracles.  Moses had, but Joshua had not.  He could have looked at his predecessor and said, “I can’t measure up to that.”  Had he let that fear grip him, he would have missed his calling.  I often look at a task for which God is calling and then compare myself with others who have done it.  It is easy to make such a comparison and feel inadequate.  But none of us should let that fear prevent us from moving forward.  Those same predecessors had the very same feelings of inadequacy that we are prone to have.  What made the difference for them?  They faced those fears down and moved forward anyway.  So can you and so can I!

It is so worth facing down your fears.  Why?  Because entering into the changes God call us into can have great benefits.

Consider the benefits Joshua would attain when pushing through his fears…

  1. Growth.  Because Joshua was willing to follow God through change, he grew to realize his calling and increase his responsibility.  When you follow God through changes in your life you grow.  Your understanding of God’s purpose for your life increases as your responsibilities in life increase.
  2. Gain.  Joshua would help the people attain the Promised Land.  All great achievements in life demand that you navigate through change.


Change can be frightening.  Kriegel and Brandt say, “Change is uncomfortable, unpredictable, and often seems unsafe.  It’s fraught with uncertainty and always looks harder than it is…Change brings us face-to-face with the unknown.”

But let’s not forget that change is our opportunity to face down our fears, stretch our faith, and reach for something more.

Question:  What fears grip you when you face change?  Why should you push through that change to follow God’s call into something new?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

This past week I helped my mother move out of our homestead into a new house across town.  She had lived in that home for 36 years.  It was the house I most remember growing up in.  As we packed, waves of memories crashed against the shoreline of my mind.  There was a mix of sadness and excitement.

The Adventure Of Change

The Adventure Of Change

Saying goodbye to that house was a bit scary.  That was home for nearly four decades, not just for my mother, but for me as well.  Even though I did not live there anymore, it was a place of memories and created a sense of stability for me.  Seeing my mom make this change meant we had to say goodbye to some very familiar things.  That can be difficult.

But there was an excitement.  For her, this marked a new chapter of her life.  Breaking out of the long standing routines meant that her life has more adventure in it.  That is exciting, maybe unsettling at times, but definitely life expanding.

She will make new relationships, discover new places, experience new patterns and that is good.  Change does that for us.  In fact, it is only through change that these things can happen.  The truth is, if you are going to walk with God it will require change.

If your life is going to conform to the will of God, you must change and accept change as a necessary part of living out your faith.  Simply entering into a relationship with Christ and living a kingdom lifestyle necessitates that we allow God to do a radical work of transformation in our souls.  Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3)

You can’t become like Jesus without change.  Paul writes, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)  That means a lot of change:  change of loyalty, change of direction, change of values, and an overall change of worldview.

Change takes us out of our zones of comfort and catapults us into territories of uncertainty.  For some change is exciting, for others terrifying, and for most of us it is both.

Now life is about motion and growth.  Nothing can ever stay completely the same.  Relationships change, families change, children change, schools change, neighborhoods change, churches change, and businesses change.

There are two kinds of change…                      

  1. Unexpected change.  This might include an unexpected death of a loved one, the surprise loss of your job, or an unexpected transfer.
  2. Expected change.  But there are all kinds of changes that we should expect (though sometimes we stay in denial and that prevents us from properly preparing for such change).  This might include things like…
    1. When your five year old gets on the big bus for Kindergarten.
    2. When Dad gives his daughter away to be married.
    3. When you graduate from High School and prepare for college.
    4. When you move away to a new job that you applied for.
    5. When your department with the company is restructured because of growth or decline.

These changes are going to come.  You cannot stop them from happening.  You can choose to look at them as things to resist (but that might be futile).  Or you can choose to embrace them.

If we are going to fulfill God’s will in our living, we must do as the old song says and “turn and face the change.

Today, I encourage you to not be afraid of change, but to embrace it.  Granted not all change is good, and perhaps there are times to resist it.  But we must accept that change is inevitable and that it can be in our favor.

I find that if I accept change as normal, new opportunities present themselves to me.  I am the Pastor of my church.  With every change our congregation has experienced, I have found new people I get to reach out to and I find that I get to stretch my abilities and learn new skills.

I am also a Professor at Liberty University.  The school has doubled in size in less than half a decade.  With that kind of growth, organizational changes are constant.  I have to learn new skills all the time.  There are lots of reorganizations.  That can produce anxiety, but I have found that if I embrace the change and not complain, the changes give me greater opportunities to prepare more students for their futures.

Question:  What about your life?  Are there some changes you are facing?  How do you feel about them?  Are there opportunities in the change that can expand your horizons, sharpen your skills, and most of all stretch your faith?  Tell us about how change is expanding your world.  You can leave a comment by clicking here.