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Friday, March 27, 2015

Hannah at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

"Fear Not"

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"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1). "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee" (Isaiah 41:13). "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:17,18).

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana Yesterday I was visiting with Mike, a project manager, in one of the companies we serve as chaplains. He was excited to show me photos of his daughter Hannah who recently returned from a missions trip to Guyana.

She was with a group of students serving from her high school seeking to reach students in Guyana with a message of hope through Jesus Christ and focusing on suicide prevention among the youth. Guyana has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. They held assemblies in 5 public schools and talked to students one on one.

In my years of pastoral service I led several groups on missions trips and to this day I would hope that many recall the impact these trips had on their lives. Often when making a missions trip groups take a day to visit the famous sights in the area and Hannah's group visited Kaieteur Falls.
Mike had a photo of her (seen above) on his computer screen which caught my attention. It preceded our discussion about her missionary endeavor and also the fear I have of standing on edges.

Hannah is standing on a rock overlooking the majestic falls. When I saw the photo it immediately prompted a mild attack of hypsiphobia.  Since I am sure a few of our readers may not know what that word is I will define it. "
Hypsiphobia" is the fear of height, although more precisely I have a fear of edges with a drop off. I recall discussing this with our friend Kathy Matangelo many years ago and her making this distinction. Actually I am not afraid of the height itself; being in a tall building or at a high altitude doesn't bother me at all. But if I, a loved one or anybody is on an edge with a big drop-off I really get a squirmy feeling. I told Mike I would never be able to stand near an edge like Hannah. I would have to get down on all fours and slowly crawl to look out over the edge, if I dare attempt it at all!

Someone began collecting phobia words many years ago as a hobby and now has a phobia list of over 500 phobias! (Link below) I am sure everyone will find something on the list they struggle with. After this week's tragic airline crash in Europe many will deal with a heightened sense of Aviophobia.

Certainly there are many situations that induce fear. Fierce storms, financial issues and terrorist threats number among so many other troubles that instill fear. Even dogs have phobias. Last night we had a severe storm pass by and our younger dog Mollie is terrified of storms!

Keep Calm and Fear Not
There is a positive aspect of fear as well. We are told in Scripture to "fear God", although this is different than all other kinds of fear, having more the sense of having reverence and awe. I have preached a sermon on the healthy, holy fear of God, something lacking greatly in the world and even in the Church.

Fear itself is first expressed in the Bible shortly after the transgression in the garden when Adam said to God, "I was afraid" (Genesis 3:10). The remainder of the Bible is full of many expressions of human fear for a wide variety of reasons. It's still that way today and people seem to keep coming up with new causes for fear!

I find great assurance in the tiny phrase found often in Scripture translated "fear not" in the King James Version (or generally "do not be afraid" in many other versions). This phrase is found sixty-two times from Genesis to Revelation. In today's Scripture texts we have both the first and last occurrences in the Bible.

Today I encourage you to listen carefully for the voice of our heavenly Father. He speaks gently to your heart reminding you to put your confidence in Him. Some of you are really struggling with fear as you read this. It's crippling you spiritually and emotionally and perhaps even physically. When I take the time to stop and really consider my emotions I realize that I experience fear and anxiety most when I'm not trusting in what God has said or what He has shown me through His character traits.

God continues to speak, "Fear not". We must act upon His loving command if we are to have deep abiding peace and growing trust in the One who truly cares for those who belong to Him.

Fear not my child I'm with you always,
I feel every pain and every tear I see.
Fear not my child I'm with you always,
I know how to care for what belongs to Me.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father I will not fear for You have redeemed me and called me by name. You know when I pass through the waters and You have promised to be with me; when I cross through the rivers they will not sweep over me. When I walk through the fire I will not be burned for You walk with me. Though trials may engulf me and tempt me to be paralyzed by fear, I can overcome the enemy of fear just as Jesus overcame the power of death. May the resurrected power of Jesus subside my fears and doubts while building my faith and trust in the Holy One of Israel. Amen.

See Isaiah 43

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Kaieteur Falls is a waterfall on the Potaro River in Kaieteur National Park, central Essequibo Territory, Guyana. It is 226 meters (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 meters (822 ft). While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic meters per second (23,400 cubic feet per second). (Wikipedia)

Mennonite greenhouse wagon 3/26/15
Yesterday we approached this young Mennonite boy with a team pulling some type of greenhouse on a wagon. We sure enjoy the interesting sights, sounds and even smells of rural Lancaster County. (I'm speaking of the chocolate that wafts through the air from Wilbur Chocolate and M&M Mars on some days!)

Spring flower cart 3/26/15
Another early sign of Spring when the flower carts are out again.

Storm coming 3/26/15
Last night at dusk we had a dark storm covering while Ester and I rode our bikes in the neighborhood.  Brooksyne was walking the dogs and took this photo before we quickly headed home just before heavy winds and rain descended upon us.

Storm coming 3/26/15
One more view of the dark clouds

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Fear Not My Child"  Video  Carman  This Saturday evening Brooksyne and Ester will be attending a Carmen concert here in Lancaster. They assist the concert promoters by selling merchandise.

"I'd Rather Have Jesus"  Video  Jason Crabb

"Gentle Shepherd"  Video  Homecoming singers

"Voice Of Truth"  Video  Casting Crowns

"I Can Trust Jesus"  Video  
Collingsworth Family

The Phobia List  The longest phobia listed and a word I rarely use in my sermons is "hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia". You may think that must be a fear of Hippopotamus but you would be wrong! In my line of work I sure hope I don't deal with many people who have "homilophobia." But we should have a healthy sense of "Hadephobia" See Matthew 10:28.

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"For God has chosen
the weak things in the world,
the foolish,
the nothings.
That no flesh will glory
in His presence."
1 Corinthians 1:27-29

"Living securely today  anchored in God's solid foundation"