Why You Shouldn’t Fear…

It has been interesting to experience the cycle of emotions over the past few months concerning the election and the transition to the new president of the United States, Donald Trump. We have seen a cycle take place over the past several weeks including denial, disbelief, a time of challenges to the results, and finally, of acceptance of the election yet with intense hatred. The hard truth is that we have a President in Donald J. Trump, and though this truth may send chills to a portion of our country, nevertheless, we have this as a reality. Others willingly have welcomed the new president with an excitement for any new changes that he might bring. This doesn’t mean, however, that President Trump isn’t without his flaws. His character shortcomings are many, including his past indiscretions, accusations of racism, and an ongoing display of brashness and immaturity in his many tweets against those who criticize him. Granted, some of the accusations against Trump are overblown, yet there’s no denying his shortcomings. Personally, I criticized candidate Trump long ago on these flaws, much to the chagrin of friends on social media, yet this same criticism was also applied toward Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson, and others.

However, let’s be clear that if you are a Christian, you have two main truths regarding our new president: 1) you are called to the privilege to pray for your leaders and 2) you should never fear your leader.

First, your privilege of prayer for your leader should not be seen as an obligation, but as a pleasure. Romans 13:1 says that “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Related to this is 1 Tim 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority…” Our subjection and our prayers go hand in hand, praying for peace, goodness, and the sovereignty of God over all of our affairs. It is understood too, that this is our privilege and our pleasure so that we don’t pray for our leaders with anger, hatred, or even obligation, but with fervent peace in our hearts.

Second, you should never fear him. Those who call themselves Christians should neither have a boastful confidence in a man nor scathing hatred and fear of a man. Matthew 10:28 says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Hebrews 10:31 states that “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” We are to fear (or be in awe) to God, not people. We cannot and should not make the mistake that our object of fear is a simple mortal man when there is a powerful spiritual realm well beyond the physical before us.

So feel free to critique the policies, participate in the process, but most of all, pray for him as your God ordained leader. Eye the media with a healthy skepticism, policies with a biblical worldview, and most of all, work for peace in a country which desperately needs it. Do not fear- focus instead on the gospel- and stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people in our great country.

Praying for our leaders,

Pastor Fran

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Hey new gym guy: I’ve Been There (and I still am)

I know you. You made that resolution to exercise and lose weight. Yeah, yeah, you felt guilty about eating that good (but awful) food last week. You got that twinge of guilt for sitting around too much watching movies, football, or whatever else was on and saw the gym membership commercials. I get it: you are tired of the extra pounds and just had to lose it, so you began to workout, started “dieting” and started the New Year with a determination to get on it. Yep, I’ve been there.

My change came from a desire to be healthier for my family, for ministry, for a longer, more productive life. I don’t know how the pounds added up, the moments of denial, the justification that my clothes just “shrunk” or the designers made their clothes run a bit small, but the extra weight kept coming. Eventually, I got tired of being out of breath going up stairs, of not being able to tie my shoes without a struggle, of feeling a lack of energy. I hated it, and I had to do something about it.

A visit a few years ago to my doctor, however, confirmed what I feared. I was, as he put it, a very “unhealthy guy.” My lipid profile reflected what my scale had said and what I already knew deep down inside: something, anything had to be done. Since I had a parent who had a heart attack in his late 40s, it was obvious that I had both the family history and the appearance of a ticking time bomb. I was ripe for my own personal disaster. So, yeah, I’ve been there.

gym-546138_640So what did I do? I eventually changed the foods that I ate to plant-based, exercised regularly, and I scheduled in time for my physical health on my calendar for intense work outs with a supportive friend and trainer. I included my friends, family, and church family in these changes, even being accountable to a few, and constantly sought to make improvements in my health habits. It has been hard work and there’s been a ton of detours and mistakes, but I’ve somehow stayed on track. And for all of that, I am grateful to God for this journey, because I’m no longer taking my health for granted.

Three and a half years later after my start, I’ve lost 20% of my body weight. My blood tests as of today now show that my Cholesterol/HDL Ratio is down 25%, Triglycerides reduced 30%, LDL, down by 20%. In fact, every imaginable test of health shows that I’m much physically healthier inside and out. More work is needed, but I’m getting there.

So, yeah, I’ve been there (and I still am) on the journey. For you, don’t quit. Don’t be tempted to lie to yourself and slow down what you’re about to do. Don’t take your foot off of the gas pedal to healthiness. Do the hard work in the gym and at the food choices you make. And for crying out loud, run from the fad diets, pills, and gimmicks, because nothing will replace consistency and dedication. Most of all, as you make your changes, allow those who love you the most to help encourage you on your journey to wellness.

So, new gym guy, I’m rooting for you- I know that you can do this! After all, I’ve been there (and I still am).

Pastor Fran