April 1st is often called April Fool’s Day, and its a great time to prank someone.
Back in the early 1970s I was the youth director at the Waterloo Church of Christ. We had a big Halloween party at our old farmhouse for the teens. Part of the party was an after-dark hay-ride on a hay-filled wagon pulled by Cliff Lockwood. During that hay-ride, Cliff slowed the tractor to a crawl through a wooded area near Cedar Creek. I told the teens a fabricated story about how an old man was murdered years ago in this woods and from time to time his ghost was known to come out after dark and attack people, so they should keep an eye out.
About that time we crossed a single-lane bridge over the creek. As pre-arranged, several of the adult youth workers came up out of the woods and began moaning at the kids. One of the men got too close and grabbed one of the teens by the ankle. This scared the teen so badly that he (or she) kicked the man in the face and knocked him out cold. Now the man was really moaning and the teens were screaming and crying. What was supposed to be fun turned out to be an April fool’s disaster.
I think sometimes some of the things that happen in our lives are a bit of a trick God plays on us. What we hate turns into a blessing. What we fear opens doors. Who can figure out the ways of the Lord? We never get to see what God has planned for our hayride until we get back home and get to retell our stories of survival. I believe in heaven we’ll all have a good laugh with Him.
Tags: fear, prank
Anita and I took our granddaughters to the animal barns Monday. Our first stop was the horse barns. It was early Monday, but there were a couple of draft horses in there. As we stopped so the girls could see, one of their owners stepped into the stall to place a collar over one of the horse’s heads. The horse didn’t like that idea and stepped backwards out of the stall. He (or she) was on a rope, so it couldn’t go far, but that scared the daylights out of Raegan. From that point on, all she wanted to see were the rabbits and ducks. No more big animals for her.
Have you had a scarey experience that put fear in your heart for the rest of your life? This is what Paul described as a stronghold. Not every scarey thing is a stronghold. Fear of fire and heights are healthy fears. They keep us from getting hurt. But there are fears which become strongholds. When a fear becomes a stronghold, it irrationally controls us and holds us back.
I once had a fear of failure because I had failed. Some of us have a fear of relationships because we’ve been hurt in one. Others of us fear electricity because we’ve been shocked before. When an irrational fear holds us back from doing what God has called us to do, it is a stronghold in our lives. We are called to be over-comers and must face our fears.
Paul addressed these strongholds in 2 Corinthians 10:4: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds“. Let’s fight these strongholds with God’s weapons.
Tags: fear, stronghold
This week I am filling in for the DeKalb County Jail Chaplain, who is out of town. I received a request to visit an inmate from Allen County whose pastor was not available to visit him. It was a profitable visit as this young man was seriously seeking God. He had some very good questions about the Bible that I was able to answer.
This young man had made some bad choices and got himself mixed up with some pretty rough characters doing some pretty dumb things here in DeKalb County. Being from a mixed-race ethnic background, these white guys attempted to terrorize him with threats of lynching from a backyard tree. This scared him badly. Fortunately for all involved, the local police arrested him on a substance abuse charge and locked him up.
This eye-opening experience forced him to turn to God. He wanted to change his life and pursue God like he had heard about years ago in the Allen County Juvenile Center (formerly Wood Youth Center). Join me in praying for this young man, that God will give him a plan to carry out his dream, and not fall back into the same thing. Life change is what Christianity is really all about.
Tags: conversion, fear, jail, prejudice
Some years ago I was leading a missions trip to the Dominican Republic. Our flight had a lay-over in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We had enough time to get off the plane and walk through the concourse to stretch our legs. Because there wasn’t much to do in the airport, I arrived back in the plane before long.
As I was boarding I noticed the pilot and a couple of stewardesses had the overhead compartment open above my seat. It all looked pretty serious. As I walked up, the pilot asked me, “Sir, is this your bag?” “Yes,” I replied.” “Open it,” he said sternly.
I pulled the bag down onto the seat and noticed a vibration, kind of a buzz, coming from it. I felt around and noticed it was coming from one end compartment. I had no idea what it was. As I opened it up, I noticed that buzz sounded familiar. It was my electric razor buzzing away. I shut it off and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
What appeared to be very scarey was nothing at all. How many times have you been scared to proceed when there was nothing to fear but fear itself. Chances are that thing you are scared of today will turn out to be nothing at all. Be strong and of good courage. God is on your side.
Tags: airport, fear, missions
The other week Anita and I went down to the Fire Barn here in Waterloo to watch our grand-kids’ reaction to their first visit with Santa Claus. Raegan, just short of two years old, was not very cooperative. She refused to sit on his lap or have her picture taken with him. She would observe from a distance, but that was the limit.
Of course, Santa was not going to harm her in any way, but she must have thought that in her mind. By the time Christmas actually gets here she will have seen Santa in many other situations and might change her mind by then. Its what we don’t understand that puts fear in our hearts.
So it is with God. When we don’t understand His ways or purposes, we tend to fear trusting Him. We try to hide from Him our real lives. That’s why its important that we understand that Jesus is the Light of the World and came to enlighten us in the ways of God. Let Him turn the light on for you this Christmas.
Tags: Christmas, fear, light, Santa
Many years ago I was the youth director for a church here in Waterloo. Anita and I lived in an old farmhouse just south of town, near where we live today. We arranged for a Halloween party with a hayride. Some of the younger men that were youth leaders decided to act the part of bad guys and scare the teens as the wagon moved through a wooded area.
The weather was perfect as the hayride began. As the tractor pulled the haywagon, literally overstuffed with kids having fun, entered the wooded area, the tractor slowed down to a crawl and I began telling the teens about a family who was once murdered in that woods and their remains have never been found. I told them that on some eerie nights people have reported seeing their bodies roaming in the woods.
When I had everyone good and scared, four men rushed from both sides of the woods and howled like ghosts as they approached the wagon in the dark. One of the teen boys kicked wildly at the approaching men, kicking one of them in the head and knocking him off his feet.
Halloween fun can be dangerous, especially when we have people’s emotions flaring up. We learned a valuable lesson from that episode. Beware of wild teenagers who fear for their lives!
Tags: fear, Halloween, prank
We all have scariest moments that emboss an unforgettable picture in our minds. Halloween is noted for scary moments. What’s yours?
When I was in my middle twenties I was a brand new Christian and drove a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle. I was driving north one day on State Road 1 in Steuben County. I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit remind me to fasten my safety belt, but I enjoyed the freedom too much to respond. Seconds later, as I was driving into a curve, I realized that I was left of center as another car approached. I quickly over-corrected and swerved off the road into the ditch. Seeing a pole in front of me, I steered into the cornfield, still loose from the spring planting. Sliding sideways in the loose soil, the car tipped over and rolled like a ball several times. Seeing what was about to happen, I reached upwards with both hands against the ceiling of the car and pressed myself into the seat. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” I cried out.
When the dust had settled, the car was resting on its side, all windows broken out. I hurriedly crawled out of the front window opening in case there might be a fire. I learned right then and there to listen to that still small voice. Later Anita, who I had just starting seeing, came over to pick pieces of glass out of my back, but nothing was broken.
I think that was my scariest moment. It came when I was out of control and vulnerable. I didn’t have time to think about it, but I knew there was nothing I could do but hang on for the ride. Fear grips us when we have lost control and step into the unknown where we have to trust. The Bible says God has not given us a spirit of fear.
What was your scariest moment and what lessons have you learned?
Tags: accident, fear, Halloween, scary, trust