Summary: I need not be afraid though all hell should break loose. Why? Because “God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, CEV).

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In today’s gospel reading Jesus says to a frightened group of friends: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

It’s from the story of Jesus walking on water. Some people have interpreted the story as giving us a lesson about needing to take risks in life. One preacher made that the topic of his sermon one Sunday when talking about this gospel episode.

“If you’re are going to make any gains, you will have to take some risks," among many other things, the preacher told the congregation

The one about risk taking--It was the only line one young man in the congregation heard that day. It was probably the only line this man should not have heard. He never seemed to be able to hold a job and his family suffered the consequences of his apathetic attitude toward work.

The following Sunday, this fellow came up to the minister and said excitedly, "Pastor, I took your advice!"

"Oh, oh, What advice is that?"

"About taking risks. You said last week that you have to take risks to gain anything."

The pastor responded with that tentative, "waiting for the other shoe to drop " sense... "Yes???"

"Well..." (he’s beaming), "I got a check this week for some work I did a couple of months ago and I took it as a sign from the Lord. I put the whole check toward lottery tickets -- the jackpot rolled over last night and it’s already up to $25 million! I promised God that when I win, I’m going to tithe the winnings to the church!"

At latest report over many years the church was still sending this man’s family to the local food pantry!

Perhaps you picked up your newspaper one morning recently and read an editorial that went something like this:

The world is too big for us. Too much going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race, in spite of yourself. It’s an incessant strain to keep pace ... and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen so rapidly you’re out of breath trying to keep pace with who’s in and who’s out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can’t endure much more!

Have you read anything like that lately? When do you think that editorial was written? Was that editorial written last week or last month or last year?

Believe it or not, it appeared in a newspaper called "The Atlantic Journal’" on June 16, 1833 -- 175 years ago. The headline in the "Boston Globe" on November 13, 1857 read: "Energy Crisis Looms - World To Go Dark?"

There is a way of looking at history and discovering that things haven’t changed as much as we may have imagined. When we recite our litany of what’s wrong in today’s world, we tend to look longingly back at "the good old days," not realizing that generations to come will probably look back at our time as "the good old days."

It appears that every generation tends to see itself as living under the greatest stress and strain in human history. Every generation tends to spend more time dreaming dreams about some non-existent, less anxious Age than joining forces to resolve the problems of its own time.

I can remember growing up hearing my pastor and my parents talk about how convinced they were that the world was going to end soon because they perceived that things were just out of control in the world—the spread of communism, the Cold War, the Viet Nam War, sexual promiscuity, riots in our city streets in this country, and worst of all that young men were letting their hair grow long.

It seems the temptation is either to throw up our hands in a gesture of helplessness and wait for the inevitable doomsday or to put our hands together and pray for a vision of some possible solutions to solve our problems.

But let me ask you—how do you view the challenges of today’s world? Do you think the world is out of control? Think about it

• We’ve been through the Iraqi war now for several years and it seems there is no end to the violence there

• We’ve been trying to hunt down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan but we are making slow progress in eliminating the threat of terrorism

• Iran and North Korea seem like imminent threats to world peace

• Genocide is a common occurrence in places like in Africa in certain countries

• Children are abused, kidnapped and murdered even in places once considered safe in our own country

• Natural disasters in recent years—hurricanes, foods and tsunamis—seem to be more intense and more frequent

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