Tag Archives: Faith

The Depth of Personal Faith


god-is-in-control

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

A Question About the Depth of Personal Faith

Jesus asks some questions of his disciples that seem so very simple when you read them, but they actually are more difficult for most people to put into action in daily living. This same question has an obvious answer for all that most would agree to, but evaluation is called for at the conclusion which makes the illustration of Jesus much more challenging. The question Jesus poses to them is to consider the amount of faith that they have inasmuch as God cares for nature that does not possess the capacity to exercise faith.

The question does not focus upon God’s ability to supply what is needed, but the disciple’s ability to exercise faith to receive. As the contrast is established, Jesus says to them that God clothes the birds of the air with feathers, the grass in the fields with health and nutrition, and the beauty of the flowers have no worries about their existence.  It seems almost like hyperbole that sets a contrast from the extravagant emphasis upon God’s care for natural things. Jesus emphatically states the greater importance of His care for His disciples, who cannot seem to get past their concern for immediate needs and anxiety about how or when it will come.

I think that often we worry the most because we have a concern for an immediate and pressing need along with a diminished understanding of God’s concern for our lives. This unduly exposes a primary focus upon things superseding a primary focus upon God as an avenue of blessings in life. The statement Jesus made emphatically, “O ye of little faith” reminds all readers about how out of focus priorities become in Christian living as the focus shifts on things and end states. While so much concern apparently arises as a natural human response, it is a misplaced concern with holding on to money and acquiring things first. In a stark contrast, the emphasis centers upon putting God first and focusing efforts upon seeking on His (kingdom-rule) over our heart-life to construct a life of faith. The application stands out clearly that disciples must learn that God precedes all of the material things in life.

Obviously birds don’t have faith, the ability to reason, nor does grass have the ability to worry; they simply live out their existence as they are designed. However, in a contrast disciples are given the ability to think and develop faith; then, reflect their true identity as a believer. The matter that is disappointing points to the failure of this band of disciples to spend time developing a faith life focused upon God instead directing their concerns toward the material matters of life. A lesson Jesus teaches in the story elevates the central importance of our priorities in what we are seeking in life. The message clearly speaks that disciples are to seek Him and in doing so, place their lives in a position to develop faith in Him, instead of worrying about fading material things.

It is hard to wrap our head around the idea that God is supernatural and out of a life of devotion to Him that God will orchestrate things we cannot imagine in human terms. Unfortunately, the fact that faith is developed out of the fires of life, keeps many out of focus until the day that the fire changes our life focus from things on this earth to the Father and His purpose. Today is a good day to change the focus of life and make a commitment to seek Him and His Lordship over life.

Prayer for today: Father may my faith develop a trusting, knowing, powerful faith that will take my focus off of holding on to things, money, or material goods a source of security. In the fires of my life today, develop a faithful trust in a sovereign God who can bless my life with good things as I seek you first, your reign, your rule over my life today.

Sucesss, Fear of the Unknown, and Giving up Control


I heard a story once that illustrates how fear of the unknown can inhibit the ability to get past setbacks when it means releasing control and venturing out into territory that is unknown. The truth is that most people have difficulty trusting something other than what is already known.

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Imagine this and see if it sounds familiar. The story is told of a man who rode in his car while it was being towed to be repaired. When they arrived at the repair shop, the tow truck driver told him, “I didn’t think I was going to make it up that big hill.” The man replied, “I didn’t either. That’s why I kept the brakes on so we wouldn’t roll backwards.” The unfortunate thing about this story is that it illustrates a pattern of behavior where control, anxiety, and fear can disable attempts to navigate through problems.

It is easy to look at this guy in the story and see what he was doing and how it affected the outcome of trying to tow his car. However, a general matter that resonates from the story is that while people are in the middle of a crisis,  the need to let go of control affects the ability to make good decisions.

It is hard to think clearly and make good decisions when emotions trigger the compulsive need to be in control in the midst of a crisis. Instead of changing the way situations are managed the tendency is to increase the grip of control which can restrict momentum in a positive direction. When problems, changes, and challenges occur fear is triggers internalized meaning about what a loss of control will mean.  We have a mental map that is activated by irrational fear triggered by emotions; then and anxiety occurs. The result is that the immediate impulse sends out a message to tighten the grip to control circumstances. Unfortunately, the harder that change is resisted, the more difficult it is to manage things as they escalate–compulsive control results in a loss of control. The question that controlling behavior raises is: Where does this response come from? The answer is that sometimes that prolonged circumstances and inflexibility to change results in distorted perceptions about what is happening and how response should be given. Consequently, trying to hold on to life with a tight fist clinching and holding on to something out of control sets off a ripple effect that affects everything and everybody that is connected to that single issue that is trying to be controlled.

Fear of releasing control disables the controller and others associated with the controlling behavior. For example, in an organizational culture control, fear, and being indecisive at the moment when a change strategy needs to occur cripples the person in control, but also impacts everyone   organically related to the circumstances. Imagine the frustration of the tow truck driver who was trying to perform a service and give help when he understood that the person he was trying to tow was behaving in a way that disabled him from being successful at his work? It is a truth that behavior has an effect upon what people are doing, but also others who is working to achieve success, as well as, those who are trying to help. Instead of releasing control and participating in forward movement, the controller holds on tighter putting strain on team members, coworkers, and organizational success. Could it be that when control is released and others are empowered that release can contribute to success and result in results that are desired from the person who is holding back progress? A lesson from over-controlling is when control and fear are in charge, the outcome results in behavior disabling a positive outcome–control is a self-fulfilling prophecy predicting failure.

The unfortunate response of holding on to distorted beliefs incongruent with reality is that anxiety driven control results in behaviors that impede success instead of creating success. An important matter to consider is that everyone needs is a network of mature, balanced, and well-rounded people who can offer a healthy way of looking at what is happening, when life gets stuck on a hill with a locked brake. Otherwise, the need to hang on too tightly to things will disengage ability to make decision that will create momentum.  When the impulse to control is distorted by how emotional stimuli paints a picture of circumstances, control responses may result in failure from a self-defeating response mechanism. If you are interested in success, it may be that an evaluation of the larger picture from an objective, someone else may give insightful information to enable releasing the brake and embracing empowering decisions that can help create success at getting up the hill. Try trusting someone close to you who is trying to help you when you cannot help yourself get your foot off the brake.

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