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By Pastor Jim Neal
First Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner - Jan. 2, 2020

Have no fear, 2020 is here!


Last updated 1/3/2020 at 6:56pm | View PDF

Years ago (more years than I care to remember) I started an Insurance agency with my main company being one that was less than 15 years old at the time. It was a company rather unique in its products, management and methods of motivation. One such motivational method was a mantra which was repeated as group meetings in and conventions. It went like this:

“I will win. Why -- I’ll tell you why. Because

I have faith, courage and enthusiasm!”

There were hand motions and gyrations that accompanied this enthusiastic affirmation as well.

However, as we break it down and consider its truths, it will make peering down the “gun barrel” of 2020 a little more exciting and palatable. Turning the page, throwing out the trash and torching the remains of 2019 pales in comparison to opening the book on a brand new year only to find blank pages on which we are to author the next chapters of our lives.

Think with me for a moment about the three great realities found it this little jingle. All of us desire to win at whatever we do, be it a relationship, job, hobby or just life in general. That being said, there are three facets to consider 1) faith 2) courage and 3) enthusiasm.

The first, of course, is the foundation of all of life, and that is faith. Every human being has faith in something, someone or some belief system. Unfortunately, many have faith in things that are fickle, fainting or fleeting. Some put faith in money and bank accounts, and those of us with a little gray hair have learned that a bank account, investment funds and the like can take wings and fly away at a moment’s notice. Solomon warns in Proverbs 23:5, “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.”

Next comes the truth of courage. Now some think that courage is lack of fear. In reality, if you asked anyone who has just exhibited and enormous amount of courage if they were fearful at all, they would tell you that they had an extreme amount of fear but acted anyway. If we are to win at anything, we must make friends with fear, be willing to face it and overcome its crippling consequences. An acronym for FEAR is (F)alse (E)vidence (A)ppearing (R)eal. Do not spend your life hiding from fear. Instead, face it straight up knowing that whatever does not kill us will make us better.

Being fearful instead of courageous causes the one exhibiting the emotion of fear to become a worrisome soul, doesn’t it? The terrible thing about worry is that it paralyzes actions, stunts imagination and cowers creativity. A survey was done several years ago about the things people worry about, and some interesting statistics resulted. It was found that 40% of things worried about never happened, 30% was of things that happened in the past (and we can do nothing about them), 12% were of needless health issues that never materialized, 10% were petty in nature and a never full 8% were real and legitimate. Now ponder those numbers and reduce your worry quotient to almost zilch to begin the new year.

Finally we come to the word “enthusiasm.” I’m no linguist, but have been told that enthusiasm comes from the Latin word that means “God within.” Think about it -- we can be excited and enthusiastic about life when we welcome The Lord of Glory to take up residence in our very lives. Romans 8:16, 17 says: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Although listed last it is truly the glue that holds this entire mantra and life together. It is that in which we place our entire faith and is the element that gives us the courage to face every possible situation. It is what allows us to shout with the Apostle Paul when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Now go out having faith, courage and enthusiasm as you begin to fill the pages in the ledger of 2020…

[BEGIN ITAL]Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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