“Stay in your prison of fear”

I was surprised recently to feel like the Lord was speaking to me through Kung Fu Panda 2, believe it or not.

In this scene, the main characters are trying to break two legends of Kung Fu out of prison to help them defeat the bad guy.  But the bad guy has a new weapon that previously defeated the two inmates.  As a result, they are kept in prison not by the bars, but by their own fear, as this scene illustrates.


You stay in your prison of fear,

with bars made of hopelessness,

and all you get are three square meals a day of shame!

With despair for dessert.

I don’t know if it’s father’s day, or just that I am doing more ministry with other men, but I’ve been seeing in myself and other men many manmade “prisons of fear” lately.

When we live in fear and fail to take the risks we know, deep in our hearts, that God wants us to take, then comes the shame.  We conclude that we can’t do it.  We make up a million justifications for why.  “I couldn’t afford it.”  “My wife won’t go for it.”  “My children need something different.”  “I won’t be very good at it,” etc.  It’s this combination of knowing that God has called us to something greater but instead convincing ourselves that we can’t do it that produces shame.  Years of living in shame produces hopelessness, and finally, despair.

The sad irony is that we play it safe because we think we are meeting our families’ needs, but what our wives and kids really need is a man who pushes past the fear and takes those risks, not because he thinks he can do it, but (and here’s the critical part) because he knows that God can.  When we put ourselves in places where we are totally screwed unless God shows up, God is faithful. And our families are watching.  They are watching us to learn how to live.   But when we play it safe and keep it under control, we often end up losing our children’s hearts, because they are looking for a bigger story.

There is tremendous freedom in this life of faith.  When I realize that my job is not to be the hero, but to point them to the hero, it’s a lot easier.  I’m not enough for them, but he his. I don’t have to have it all figured out.  I just take the risks he is asking me to take, and I trust that he has it all figured out.  My goal is to make Him look good, not myself.  And with that faith, I become the husband and father my family needs.  And together we live the story that captures their hearts.

So Lord, strengthen me to take the risks you are calling me to take.  I renounce fear, shame, hopelessness, and despair.  Take my life and write Your story—the story that will capture my imagination and that of my family.  In Jesus’ name.


A “shyness” altar call

I’ve been feeling led to look more at the biblical character Timothy.  I’m not sure what God has for me here.  I did a little background reading on Timothy this morning and came across this:

Timothy is timid at times and thus doesn’t use his gifts as he should.

Thus Paul reminded him in 2 Tim. 1:6: “…to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7] For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” We too need the same reminder—to fan into flame our gifts and not give way to “…a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” When I used to speak at youth camps, I would often give a “shyness altar call.” Realizing that I wasn’t the only one who shied away from using his gifts because of shyness, I called the shy people to a safe place, and together we dedicated our shyness to God. We recognized it as a gift of sensitivity, with the danger that we use it on ourselves, and not on others as it was intended by God. (Source: Bob Stone)

I have seen this in my own life.  It took me many years to face the fact that God had made me shy, and that the blessing of being shy was sensitivity.  I was occasionally ridiculed as a child for being overly sensitive, cry-baby, etc.  But as an adult engaged in ministry, I realize what a gift this is.  Yes, I am still sensitive and sometimes fearful.  But I think God has used that to express an empathetic sensitivity to others that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

As Pastor Stone points out here, the great danger of being shy is that this God-given sensitivity may never escape the boundaries of our own fears, and never be the blessing to the world that He intended.

Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be limited by fear.  Use me to bless others.  Use me to help empower your timid, shy, sensitive, beloved ones to move past their fears and bring hope and healing to the world around them, as you intended.  Thank you for the gift of sensitivity.  Even when I struggle with the fearful tendencies of that gift, may I never be ungrateful for how you have made me.  I don’t want fear to rip me off from the amazing life you have waiting for me!  In Jesus’ name. 

The WasteLand

In The Dream Giver, Bruce Wilkinson writes about the WasteLand: that time after you have pushed through fear and opposition and are ready to make your dream a reality, but failure or setbacks occur instead.

The WasteLand does not happen because God isn’t paying attention, or because he’s angry at us. It doesn’t happen because we have sinned (although we can lengthen our time there).

Instead, the WasteLand happens for a good and important reason: it is an invaluable season of preparation. It is the place where God transforms you into the person who can do your Dream.

Lord, give me the wisdom to invite you even into my failures. To know that failure does not mean loss in your kingdom economy, because you redeem everything. In Jesus’ name.


2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

From the study notes of The New Spirit-Filled Life Bible:

Strongholds are first established in the mind; that is why we are to take every thought captive.  Behind a stronghold is also a lie—a place of personal bondage where God’s word has been subjugated to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief that is held to be true.  Behind every lie is a fear, and behind every fear is an idol.  Idols are established where there exists a failure to trust in the provisions of God that are ours through Jesus Christ…

Here is an example:  If we make an idol of financial security, we have fears over not having enough money, and we believe the lie that we must abandon other priorities to earn as much as possible.

Or, if we make an idol of our spouse (believing they will meet our most significant needs), then we are afraid of being unhappy when they can’t/don’t meet our needs, so we believe lies like we have to manipulate them to get them to behave like we want them to.  Or we believe the lie that if they aren’t “making us happy” that we can never be happy, and believe that we face a choice of only divorce or unhappiness (as opposed to finding our joy in the Lord and his provision for us).

One of the greatest joys of doing deliverance ministry is forcing demons to tell their hosts what lies they have been feeding them over the years.  Watching the realization in the eyes of those being ministered to that they are not worthless, or it wasn’t their fault—that the tape recordings that have been playing in their minds all that time were lies of the enemy—is priceless.  To watch them get freedom and know they are loved by God is one of the greatest treasures in this life.  Thank you Jesus.

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