Summary: What if’s can rob you of Life till you learn to seek God’s kingdom first.

One of our local channels last week aired a report on the dangers lurking in our shower curtains. They took a fair number of minutes getting samples with swabs off people¡¦s shower curtains. Surprisingly in the greenish/black stuff that has grown there in the folds and along the base of the curtains, there were bacteria. Interestingly they never said what type of bacteria had grown. Fourteen-ten, Portland¡¦s business talk radio airs some pretty funny disclaimers the Stock Doctor¡¦s show. One of them goes like this:

¡§You won’t be able to live with yourself if you miss tonight’s Six O’clock News...

¡§Your drinking water may be killing you and everyone you know... but there is a safe and easy solution... details at 6.

¡§Also, your TV news may be trying to scare you into watching... this could affect your work, your kid’s school ... even your sex life. You can’t afford to miss tonight’s Six O’clock News.

It¡¦s followed by the "Six on the Beach" hotline number...

And then it closes with ¡§Tune in to tonight’s Six O’clock News ... the original home of news and the official harbinger of doom for the Stock Doctors Radio show. We dare you to miss it... in fact, we double dog dare you.¡¨

After last week¡¦s ¡§investigative report,¡¨ I can understand why. But fear sells papers and fear causes people to watch the news.

This last week Attorney General Ashcroft announced that the U.S. is seeking seven people concerning possible terror attacks this summer. There is nothing specific but the FBI is asking Americans to be more aware of what¡¦s going on around us. With a number of major happenings, I in our nation it seems like a prime time. Fear wins elections and solidifies political power. It doesn¡¦t matter if you¡¦re stoking the fear of higher taxes or of racial unrest; fear the other party will gut defense or gut school funding all works to raise money from the advocacy groups that surround the various issues we face. Fear not only gets the money out but it can get the vote out too.

In The Culture of Fear, Barry Glassner contends that in a nation well equipped to control disease that it is startling to see just how many people are seriously ill in our nation. He reviewed The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today and found that 59 million Americans have heart disease. 53 million suffer from migraines. There are 25 million with osteoporosis. 16 million are obese and so on. Adding the figures in all the articles, he estimated 543 million Americans were seriously sick. That is a shocking number¡X543 million. It¡¦s especially shocking because the entire U.S. population was only about 270 in 1999 when he wrote this book. Fear is overrated and over emphasized. Maybe part of the anxiety disorders we see so much around us flows from an over awareness of what can go wrong. Quite a few years ago, Zig Ziggler reported in Something to Smile About that:

„« 40% of our worries will never happen

„« 30% of our worries have already happened

„« 12% of our worries are over unfounded health concerns

„« 10% of our worries involve daily fretting that accomplishes nothing

„« Only 8% of our worries are truly justified and lead to constructive action!

Tonight or this week this as you listen to the radio, or watch television, read a paper or magazine. Be conscious of how much fear is played on. It will probably frighten you. Also, be conscious of how much effort we put into the 92% of the things we can do nothing about or which don¡¦t really matter. If you¡¦ve asked yourself, ¡§What if there¡¦s a terrorist attack?¡¨ Have you taken the step of getting a disaster relief kit put together? That you can do something about. The attack you probably can¡¦t. Jesus says, ¡§Don¡¦t worry about tomorrow,¡¨ but as Pastor Craig Burton points out this doesn¡¦t mean to max out our credit cards and declare¡¦ ¡§Hey I can do whatever I want and God will take care of me.¡¨

The promise that God will take care of our needs is not automatic or universal. It is one of the outcomes of living for God and traveling the direction He is going. Live this way and we don¡¦t have to worry. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

If you¡¦ve been following this adventure you¡¦ll probably noticed that although the title is about fear the messages tend to focus on God¡¦s answers to them. In an uncertain world with various threat advisory levels, we chose to memorize God¡¦s word as a way to combat that fear. We adopted a prayer as a way of combating the fear of financial insecurity. Encouraging other people was the way to stand tall when faced with the fear of being rejected or betrayed. And as we confessed those sins that we¡¦ve, so desperately have tried to shove off in the corner of our lives we found that the skeletons in those closets don¡¦t make us afraid any longer. The last two weeks we¡¦ve been challenged to do an outrageously courageous act and to write our own epitaphs or eulogies. In this way, we seek to combat the fear of failing or death.

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