The Surprising Antidote to Fear

King David was a man’s man. Any guy who knows how to fight bears and lions has my respect. Yet David also knew a range of emotions, and he seems to have done a good job expressing many of them in the psalms.

One of David’s psalms, Psalm 27, became significant to me a few years back. Reading the psalm, it’s clear that David is familiar with fear:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
    
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
    
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
(Psalm 27:1-3)

I like a man who can express, even as he reassures himself, that he’s afraid. I appreciate that he concludes the psalm, in verses 7 to 12, with an apparent struggle in resolving his fear. Life is complicated like that.

What I really appreciate in Psalm 27 is David’s solution to his fear:

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
(Psalm 27:4)

What’s the antidote to fear, according to David. Beauty. In particular, God’s beauty. “Beauty is just what worry needs. Worry’s magnetic attraction can only be broken by a stronger attraction, and David is saying we can only find that attraction in God himself” (Ed Welch).

When I’m afraid, I’m learning that my fears often point to idols. I’m also learning that what I need is a giant dose of the only beauty that is big enough to displace all my fears: the beauty of God himself.

No, it’s not simple. That’s why I’m glad David finishes the psalm by wrestling through what this looks like in my life. But it is profound. The antidote to fear is God’s beauty. It’s often the last place I look, but it’s really the first thing that I need when I get scared.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Show Me

One of the reasons I enjoyed A Praying Life so much is that it’s more than a book on prayer. It’s a book about Paul Miller’s normal (in other words, messy) life, and how prayer takes place in that context. 

In A Praying Life, we discover that Miller is just as neck-deep in ordinary life as we are: lost contact lenses, children who misbehave, burnout, buying new cars, performance reviews, and more. I didn’t really need to read another treatise on prayer, but I sure needed to read how prayer takes place in the middle of the mess.

It reminds me of the time, many years ago now, when I had a pretty good grasp of robust theology, but not much experience with churches that blended robust theology with effective ministry. I didn’t need another theological book; I needed to see a real, ordinary church love truth and model effective ministry. Thank God, and I found a few, and I’m still finding more.

Don’t tell me the truth. Show me the truth. Show it to me in the messiness of kids throwing up, cars breaking down, bills that need paying, and houses that need cleaning. If you're a pastor, show me your church as it loves imperfect people, reaches ordinary neighborhoods, and deals with irritated people, struggling marriages, and discouraged leaders. We don’t need perfect, but we need to see real church planters, real pastors, real marriages, real churches, real disciples, real men and women. And others need to see me being godly and real too.

Show me, and include your struggles too. I’ve read the treatise. I desperately need to see your life, and others do too.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Negative Preparation

In his book The Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton describes what he calls “negative preparation items.”

God often prepares someone to accept the next steps of guidance by first allowing them to go through negative experiences during their present development phase….Negative preparation involves God’s use of events, people, conflict, persecution, and experiences that focus on the negative, in order to free a person from the present situation to enter the next phase of development with revitalized interest.

We need to be careful. Painful situations are not always a reason to leave.

God may want to use the situation to mature your character, as described in James 1:2-4, and this should not be confused with the negative preparation item in which God wants to break you loose from a situation in order to move you on to something you might not otherwise choose.

The negative situation leads to release, so that we “can be free to embrace a new ministry that would probably never have been considered without the negative preparation process item.”

God can redeem even the toughest experiences of our lives. In his grace, he can use even the negative experiences to launch us into the most fruitful and life-giving seasons of our lives.

 

An Essential Ingredient in Reaching Unreached People

The occasion: a church’s first service in a new building. The mayor and other dignitaries attended. The mood was festive — at least until the pastor showed a picture of men hanging from a crane.

The men, the pastor explained, were martyrs, killed for their faith in Jesus. We do not live with the same danger, he continued. We will probably not face martyrdom. But we can not be any less committed to Jesus than these men were, the pastor said, and we must be equally prepared to die for Christ as they were.

We live in interesting times. We are increasingly out of step with culture, and we are feeling it. We’re not used to being countercultural. We get that it happens elsewhere, but it’s a new experience for us here.

It’s time to get used to it. We out of sync with the popular zeitgeist. We may even, at some point, lose our charitable status or property tax exemptions. So be it. We can’t be any less committed to Christ than those who have suffered more.

David Platt once witnessed a baptism in an underground house church. The pastor asked a young man in his twenties, “Are you willing to be baptized, knowing that it may cost you your life?” With unhesitating resolve, he replied, “I have already sacrificed everything to follow Jesus. Yes, I want to be baptized.” A friend of mine now asks people this same question before he baptizes them.

We may not face the threat of death here, but we must be equally prepared to die for Christ as those who do.

I love what Ajith Fernando writes:

The West is fast becoming an unreached region. The Bible and history show that suffering is an essential ingredient in reaching unreached people. Will the loss of a theology of suffering lead the Western church to become ineffective in evangelism?…[Christians] need to have a firm theology of suffering if they are to be healthy and bear fruit.

This is true everywhere, but we’re just beginning to learn its truth here.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Christians Against Poverty

Many of us know the challenges of managing our money. No matter how great our income, the expenses seem to keep up. We may like the idea of budgeting, but living on a budget is another matter. As a result, we end up falling short and racking up debt.

Christians Against Poverty wants to help. At first glance, it sounds like a protest group or ministry for the poor. It’s actually for anyone who wants to learn how to better manage their money. Although it’s certainly a great fit for low-income areas, it’s also a great fit for middle-income people who want to budget, save, and spend wisely. According to their mission statement, "We are passionate about releasing people in our nation from a life sentence of debt, poverty and their causes. Working with the church we bring good news, hope and freedom.”

CAP works with churches to offer a CAP Money Course, which aims to empower people to give and save more, and to avoid the destructive effects of unmanageable debt. The course is simple. It begins with where you are financially, and helps you set financial goals, design a budget, and implement a system that helps you stick to the budget using a cash system. The course comes with a clear workbook, and is taught by trained volunteers. Participants in the course get access to an online budgeting tool. If you need additional help, you can access Internet and phone-based support directly from CAP.

Why should churches partner with CAP? Many in our congregations and communities are struggling with their finances. Helping them is part of discipleship, and it’s also a means of building relationships.

I heard of CAP through friends who took the course a year ago. They thought they were managing their finances well already. After taking and implementing the course, they were able to save enough money to take their entire family of five to Thailand (where my friend grew up as a missionary kid) using cash.

I recently took the course, and we plan on offering it through our church. If you live in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, then you should consider taking it too, or offering it at your church.

For more information, visit the Christians Against Poverty website.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.