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Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Dig Out Fear By Its Roots

(Full disclosure: I’ve been struggling mightily to grow a couple of tomato plants so I may be blogging about all manner of gardening metaphors over the next month or so)

dummyIf you were to build a fear detector, what would it measure? Probably things like body temperature, pupil dilation, perspiration, the scent of certain chemicals or pheromones in the human body. Pee.

Then when you present your subject face to face in a dim room, with the most horrifying thing in the world (which I have on good authority is a ventriloquist dummy) you can tune in your fancy fear detector and get a reading.

Then you can get all kinds of creative with ways to measure fear.

  • For example, put the ventriloquist dummy on the back of the bathroom door, so that when someone goes in to brush their teeth, they spot it behind them in the mirror (fear level 3).
  • Suspend it by wires above their bed while they are sleeping so it is hovering over them, staring at them when they wake up (fear level 7).
  • At your buddy’s wedding, when the priest says “you may kiss the bride,” and behind the veil: ventriloquist dummy! (Fear level 9).

So when I talk about rooting out the source of fear, am I talking about mulching your ventriloquist dummy? No, although I’m sure it would happen after any one of those scenarios.

The ventriloquist dummy is not actually the source of fear.

Because if you put the dummy in an empty room, and give him a pair of bloody machetes and the spookiest dialogue ever written… your fear detector still reads a zero. Therefore the fear originates somewhere else.

This whole dummy conversation has been a long, roundabout method of explaining that fear is in the mind.

Thought is the source of all fear.

That’s why babies are fearless when it comes to ventriloquist dummies, even though they should be terrified.

So, since fear originates in our thoughts, how do we root out those fear thoughts?

The less effective way is to think your way through them. To ponder, to rationalize, to intellectualize. Using thought to fight thought is like using fire to fight fire.

Words are much better at overcoming thoughts. We can overcome fear thoughts by verbalizing our defeat of them.

When you are confronted by a machete wielding ventriloquist dummy, just say to yourself, “Hey you’re head is made of plastic and even though you are the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen, I know that you can’t walk and are only standing in the hallway because someone crammed a broomstick up your bum and I can walk right past you and turn my nose up at you as if I were a rich socialite and you are beneath my notice.”

Your fear will disappear as you talk your way through it.

This process is not limited to overcoming your fear of dummies. It is actually a lot more useful at overcoming social fears, those things that we as adults have learned to be afraid of.

If you have been dreading making an important phone call to a client, talk yourself into dialing: “This is an important call to an important client and I will definitely not get this account unless I call and make a great pitch and I’m picking up the phone and I’m dialing the number and I’m smiling… Hello.”

What fears have you been allowing to fester in your mind, when you can be carving them out with the power of words?

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Attack Satan With Scripture

swordWe as humans get weary. We get tempted. We are thoroughly corruptible. As C.S. Lewis described the world, we as Christians are in “enemy territory.” The world is full of Satan’s influence. The world can often reward people for deception. The world can sometimes glorify drunkenness, infidelity and violence. I am not a pastor, but here are some thoughts on how we as Christians can remain strong in God and defy the influence of the enemy.

In Ephesians 6, Paul begins his description of the “Armor of God.” Not physical armor, but spiritual armor. Armor that will help us to “…stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but… …against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:11-12, selected, NIV).

armorPaul itemizes the pieces that make up the full armor of God.

The belt of truth.
The breastplate of righteousness.
The gospel of peace.
The shield of faith.
The helmet of salvation.

This is armor. It protects us from wounds. It is metaphorical armor, as I am reasonably certain that these are not actual physical artifacts that were handed down to the Apostles. But by surrounding ourselves with truth; By being honest in our words and dealings and surrounding ourselves with truth in our lives, we protect ourselves spiritually from corruption. Righteousness, peace, faith are all qualities that bolster us from spiritual attack. Salvation is what identifies us as followers of Christ, those who are in the world but not of the world.

But each of these articles are only defensive. A Roman legion going into combat with only those implements would lose every time. The final piece of armor is not armor at all, but a weapon. The only offensive tool which we are given to battle against spiritual forces of evil.

“…the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”

All words have power. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and He pierced the darkness. We cannot speak with the voice of God, but we can speak the with the Word of God. This is the weapon that we can wield as a sword against the devil’s schemes. Yes our shield, and our breastplate, and our helmet protect against his overt assaults and his covert whispers. But sometimes it makes sense to strike back; To go on offense. Our sword is the word of God. And the word of God is given to us in the form of the Bible.

When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by the devil he did not ignore him, he resisted him. He resisted him not by turning the other cheek and being humble. He resisted him with words.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down (from the highest point of the temple).” Jesus answered him, “…’Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” (Mat 4:3-10, selected, NIV).

Jesus teaches us how we can rebuke Satan, not just with words but with the written Word of God. Jesus is using scripture to stab back at Satan. He went Old Testament on him!

“…to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3, NIV)
“Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” (Deut 6:13)
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.” (Deut 6:16)

As an author, when I read a book, I highlight passages and write down quotes that I feel are important, or that I could probably use later. I encourage you, as you study and meditate on the Bible, to do the same thing. Take specific notes. Write down passages and scripture that you can use against a particular weakness or temptation. When you feel like you are under attack spiritually, attack Satan back with scripture.

Do not wallow and say this must be the will of God. God’s will is in his Word.

When you are tempted to lie for your own benefit, say “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Pro 11:3, NIV)

When you are tempted to cheat in some way, say “Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.” (Pro 16:11, NIV)

When you are driven to anger, say “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” (Pro 16:32, NIV)

When you are afraid, say “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6, NIV)

When you are tempted by pornography, say “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mat 5:28 NIV)

As you do your daily devotionals, you will continue to reinforce your armor. But also, be aware that we are soldiers in enemy territory. So continue to add to your arsenal. Hone the sword of your spirit. When you are under attack, your armor and your shield may extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy, but in God’s name strike back at Satan.


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Why I Love Superheroes

superhero

I readily admit that I am something of a nerd. I love comic book superheroes. I loved them before the relatively recent flood of actual good superhero movies. I was a nerd, before it was cool to be a nerd (and I’m not sure if that makes me more cool, or more nerdy).

I finally figured out the reason why I love superheroes, and why I would like to be one. It wasn’t that I wanted to fly, be super strong or shoot lasers from my eyes (although that would be cool). The first reason, is because when I see an injustice I would like to have the power to do something about it. That’s why I wanted to take Karate lessons when I was a kid, so I could protect people from bullies. Well, and protect myself; Remember: nerd. Even today, if I saw someone get attacked I would probably (and stupidly) put myself into harm’s way.

But also, superheroes inspire other people. The best scene in Spider-Man 2 was when our hero stops that runaway train from crashing and that car full of passengers see that he’s just a kid under the mask. When Doc Ock returns to capture him, all those people who were previously defenseless passengers stand up against the super-villain. Of course, they prove about as effective as me with my purple belt in the 5th grade, but still it was an inspiring scene.

Now watch as I make a smooth transition…

In my book, I wrote a section on the power of words. Words have power. A few spoken words can bless or haunt your children for the rest of their lives. The words you use can be postive or negative. Words can spread love or hate. Words have the power to create and destroy. You can speak words of life or you can speak words of death. And in this Information Age, words spread with greater speed and force than ever before. Everyone has the potential for incredible power today.

That’s why I try to be responsible with my choice of words, because I want to use what power I have to uplift and inspire people. Remember, “with great power comes great responsibility.”