October is my favorite. It’s a season for jackets, pumpkins, and spooky movies. Some people have negatively questioned my love of spooky things, but these spooky things have helped me cope with a lot of fear I had as a kid. We often give fear too much power, and Christians are especially guilty of this. In an attempt to turn away from sin, we decided to fear the “other,” choosing to stick to ourselves in our comfort zones; we have begun to fear the people that need to hear our message the most. We see people that are different, and we fear them, we fear that their influence will be “bad” for us, so we just avoid them all together. This is a mindset we have to fight because we are called to “fear not.” Joshua in the bible faced bigger things than many of us will, and God told him over and over to have no fear, to trust God and he would give him victory over his fear. This month is coming to an end, and I have been talking about how the enemy uses fear to try and bring us down. I like to fight back fear, because to fight means that we are active, and we must actively combat fear.
The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.
“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”
There’s been a lot of bad stuff recently. If you pay attention to the news, it can seem like there isn’t much hope in the world. Last week there was a shooting in Florida where seventeen students lost their lives. Seventeen students with potential. Seventeen children made in the image of God. My heart breaks. I tried to think about what I would do if seventeen of my students’ lives were taken, I can’t even fully comprehend the hurt and pain. We live in a time where each day it seems like more devastation happens. Our world is broken, we are so far from God and we are a lost people. I remember an Easter afternoon where I received a message that my friend and one of my brothers from small group took his own life, the pain and hurt that ran deep. I still remember the pain of having my dad tell me that a family member was addicted to drugs and alcohol, the shock and confusion of how that was even possible. In all the brokenness, it can be hard to understand why all this happens, the truth is, we need God. We need a relationship with a mighty savior that loved us so much. I’m not writing a post about how to change the past or change what has happened, I wanted to write about how we go forward. We move forward, together, and love one another.
One of the most impactful things that has happened in my life, was when my middle school youth pastor, Marshall, brought me into his office and told me I was a unique kid that was going to do great things. After that he brought me with him to a low-income school on the south side of Greensboro. The school was filled with kids who came from broken homes, newly immigrated to America, and were in a rough side of town. We set up a mini carnival for them, playing games and handing out candy. The smiles from the kids gave me a hope for the future. I was an awkward middle schooler who loved comic books and had anger issues. I was given a chance to reach out to young kids who needed help, they needed the love of Christ. I was able to give that to them in the form of fun childish games. I felt like I wasn’t going to amount to anything, but Marshall empowered my dream to be a hero to others like I read in those comic books. Marshall spoke life into me.
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”
The most common commandment throughout the bible is do not be afraid. Said another way, do not fear and its variations are used over and over again throughout scripture. This month begins a season of spookiness, and one of my favorite things I do on this blog is look at themes from b-movies and monster flicks and highlight the biblical truth found in these concepts. I promise I’m not sacrilegious, but I think biblical truths can be highlighted through this season. The biggest theme through this Halloween season is fear, and fear is from Satan. Plan simple, boom, we’re done. Not really. Fear is from Satan, and we know this, but why then do we feel fear? We feel fear because we choose to not listen to the most common commandment in scripture, we choose to rely on our own power and forget to be firm in a God who loves us. When we choose independence, we choose the enemy. We are not created to be independent, we are called sons and daughters made in the image of God, so therefore, we are called to fear not. Today I want to talk about an experience I had going to a haunted woods and what God tells us about trusting him, because fear is from the enemy and nothing good comes from anything other than God.
This past week I had the awesome opportunity to go to Camp Kidjam as a leader for my church. I love camp. There really is nothing quite like it. Being out of your home in a new place with a group of kids and being able to share the love of Jesus with them. Going into camp I was really praying for my group of four, fourth and fifth grade boys that I would be leading a small group with over the days of being there. I always want to be intentional with the relationships I am in, so I was excited for what God was going to teach and show them. What I hadn’t fully realized was that God wanted to teach and show me some things about him and about my calling into full time ministry. Funny how that can happen isn’t it? We get so engrossed in other people that we forget about what we ourselves can learn. I was so focused on what they would learn, but God wanted to teach me as well. In our leader devotionals, the first day spoke to the fact that God has something for us not just for the kids you were leading. God showed me something very important, something that each of us can apply in our lives.
“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live under the power of sin. Instead, serve one another in love.”
By the time you are reading this I will be on a van driving to camp Kidjam with a group of elementary students ready to have an awesome week of camp. My life recently has become very packed with lots to do. I’m finishing up my last online course for university, I get to go on two weeks of different camps as a leader, and I am in the continual journey of figuring out the next steps in life. In the midst of trying to figure life out, serve day just happened. It is such a great reminder of reaching out to serve the people in our community and to share the name of Jesus. If you aren’t familiar with serve day, it is a day where churches from all over the country have their small groups go out and serve their city. It is one of my favorite things about my church. There were so many groups doing so many different projects all over the city, it was such an empowering thing to see, and I wanted to share some things God taught me about serving others.