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Loving Jesus, Without Knowing How Much We Need Jesus (via Rebecca Reynolds)

The path of self-righteousness is lined with knowledge of who Jesus is, but not knowing how much we personally need him.
When we reach that point of need then we have a Saviour that we don’t just offer to others, we have a Saviour that has met our very personal need.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

My high-school years were an underworld, a terrible season of losing my orientation and losing myself. But in that chaos, I began to grasp my need for a gospel that could be carried to the darkness. If I had been able to jump through every religious hoop perfectly when I was a teenager, I would have stepped into adulthood with an inaccurate picture of my own righteousness. I wouldn’t have known how much I actually needed him. In fact, I might have thought that I was doing him a favour by standing up for him. Instead, during those four years, I saw what darkness I was capable of chasing. I learned that I didn’t just have a Saviour to offer the world – I stood in profound need of him too.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 166-167.


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A Christian’s Confidence Does Not Reside In “I’m Great” But In “Greatness Resides In Me.” (via Rebecca Reynolds)

The human goal of fulfilling ourselves demands that our efforts to do so are invested in that which we can achieve; but anything that we can achieve is not enough to satisfy our souls.
The Christian believes their fulfilment is not based on what we achieved, but on who has come to dwell within us.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

Almost every day we are told to believe in ourselves, to follow our hearts, to trust our gut, to do what feels good. Most of the movies we watch, most of thecommercials we see, most of the self—help advice that we are given relies upon this ethic. What’s the underlying drive here? While physical pleasure might seem like the big allure, there’s in fact a pull stronger than hedonism at play. The more intoxicating promise is safety — safety that we can guarantee without having to trust anybody else.
I get the appeal of this promise. At several points in my life, I have been so disappointed with the church, with my relationships, and even with my faith, that I have wanted to hide inside myself forever. Yet, this has never worked because an insular body of water grows stagnant. Disappointment becomes bitterness; bitterness becomes cynicism; and cynicism is the booby prize of a fallen world a sad, small bounty.
Examine the “believe in yourself” doctrine closely, and you will find Eve longing for a forbidden piece of fruit — not because one pear can ever be as lush as an entire garden, but because one pear is tiny enough to clutch in the palm of one small hand. This single pear represents all self—trust, an eternal folding inward, an eternal reduction.
What does a rejection of self-belief look like? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that we must embrace the “I am a worm” mentality that pervades too many pockets of Christianity. Our identity is changed when we receive Christ, and once we are a new creation, indwelt by the Spirit, it’s not healthy to buy into ugly lies that hold us back. A Christian’s confidence doesn’t reside in “I’m great” but in “Greatness lives in me.” We don’t withdraw trust but transfer it to what is trustworthy. Theological grounding in our new nature helps skepticism die because it rescues us from the double dangers of stagnant self-confidence and paralyzing insecurity.Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 116-117.


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You Serve A God Who Isn’t Limited By Your Fear (via Rebecca Reynolds)

Following Jesus alongside others provides encouragement and the example of other believers in situations similar to our own.
If encouragement gives way to comparison we can succumb to feelings of failure and lack of worth, not because of any inadequacy in us, but because we’re not the same as someone else.
And God has not created us all to be identical, or to respond to every dark valley the same as every other Christian.

From Rebecca Reynolds:

In the midst of fear, we also need to be careful about comparing our emotions with the emotions of others. In groups of nonreligious people, you will find some who are naturally bold. Certain personalities are just born risk—takers, not prone to thinking through consequences. Then there are rationalists who rarely allow themselves to be driven by feelings of any sort. Strategy is their default, not their instinct, so panic doesn’t hit them in the same way as it might hit a feeler. Feelers, on the other hand, may find themselves moved quickly and easily by circumstances or emotions. Tranquility isn’t on the emotional playlist as often as excitement, giddiness, sorrow, and fury.
Some of these inborn personality differences are impacted by personal choice, but chemical and genetic factors also come into play. God makes some people with a high natural capacity for analysis, others with a high natural capacity for risk, others with a high natural capacity for sensitivity. Instead of feeling pride or shame over our wiring, we can just acknowledge our defaults, seeing them as tools in a toolbox. We can acknowledge the pros and cons of our personalities and then ask God how he wants us to move forward.
So if you struggle with fear while someone in your religious community brags about his or her boldness, don’t let that comparison go too deep. This difference might not result from spiritual maturity so much as chemical capacity. And besides that, you serve a God who isn’t limited by your fear. In fact, it’s possible that your inborn sensitivity is vital to the specific work God has prepared for you.

Rebecca K. Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, Navpress, 2018, pgs 101-102.


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Jesus Doesn’t Dismiss Our Fears, He Experienced Them And Overcame Them (via Winn Collier)

Jesus doesn’t dismiss our fears.
He spends much time telling his disciples that we’ll experience much that drives to the hearts of our anxieties.
And he goes to the very heart of fear itself, experiences it all, and emerges victorious, for us.

From Winn Collier.

“Incarnation is the place,” says Kathleen Norris, “where hope contends with fear.” Perhaps this hints at the reason, if Jesus was familiar with fear, he was not distraught in the boat that was battered by the ferocious storm. He was not afraid because he was aware of God the Father with him. Perhaps this also tells us why the cross evoked such a different, disquieted response from Jesus. There, as the sky turned black and as Jesus cried out as only a forsaken man could, God was nowhere to be found. That is a place of terror.
Christ has known ultimate fear. He has known fear in ways we never will. It is not that Jesus is unable to understand the range of our fears; it is that we are unable to understand the depth of his. We must resist any easy notion that Jesus never knew fear. This does injustice to his humanity, and it offers little hope when fear engulfs us. How can we say God is truly “with us” if he has not been at times immersed, like us, in the torrent of fear?
This God-incarnated, this blood—and—bone God—in-Jesus, came to “contend with fear.” He did not come only to face nobly fear’s blunt force … and die. Jesus’ face—off with fear did not conclude on a darkened Friday when hope was lost and hell quivered with pleasure. After cross came resur— rection, and in the mysterious hours between the two, Jesus took death and sin—all that makes up the foul side of fear—and placed them squarely under his crushing heel. Fear unleashed all it possessed on Jesus, a torrent of death and shame and abandonment and sin, enough to finish even the strongest of men. But fear did not destroy Jesus; Jesus destroyed fear.
Our comfort and courage do not come from a Jesus who was unmolested by fear; our Comfort comes from a Jesus who went into fear’s very bowels … for us. He drank in every acidic ounce of fright and distress and vexation. For us, he drank it in. And now, as he stands leaning toward us, Immanuel asks, “Why are you afraid?”.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 53-54.


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Take Heart by Citizens

Take Heart is a track from Citizens’ album Fear.
It seems to be a reflection on Jesus’ words in John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


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Looking Up by Citizens

Citizens have a new album entitled Fear releasing later this week.
Kickstarter backers have been listening to it a week early.
Looking Up is the first official video released.
This is not so much ‘sing in church’ material, and I don’t know why they’re busting all their best dad dance moves for the video, but the music is strong.