Sermon Notes and Podcast: “The Story of Us, Pt. 2”

The Story of Us, Pt. 2: Nothing to Lose
The older we get, the harder it is to let go, to live generously. In Genesis 13, Abram was transformed by the generosity of God, and went from selling out his wife to save his skin to offering the best land– his inheritance!– to a relative with whom he was in conflict. Pastor Glenn Packiam calls us to see how we can begin to live like we have nothing to lose.

Listen to the sermon HERE.

OT Reading: Genesis 13:5-11 (ESV)
NT Reading: Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: John 10:17-18 (ESV)

STORY: Jane and ‘mine’

How do we live freely and openly, like you have nothing to lose?

Series recap

Genesis 13:1-4 (ESV)
“So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. 2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.”

After his sin of fear and deception and endangering his wife, Abraham returned to the Lord, to where it all began.

“ ‘ But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first…’ ” Revelation 2:4-5a (ESV)

Genesis 12:7-8 (ESV)
“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.”

When everything is the Lord’s, nothing is really yours.

  • A. W. Tozer: ‘The blessedness of possessing nothing’; having all things, possessing nothing
  • Not a renter, or an owner—but a steward!

Genesis 13:5-7 (ESV)
“And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.”

Genesis 13:8-11 (ESV)
“Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.’ 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.”

When nothing is really yours, you have nothing to lose.

  • Ignatian ‘indifference’ to anything except the will of God—desire only what is ‘most conducive to the end for which we were created’ (‘First Principle’)

Genesis 13:14-17 (ESV)
“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ ”

  • Both Abraham and Lot are offered land; both walk around and look;
  • One had an inheritance that will be destroyed, the other has one that is assured.
  • The difference? One is offered by man, the other is offered by God.
  • Who is your source?

God’s radical generosity transforms us.

  • Grace is an undeserved gift.
  • Everything is God’s; everything He has is ours (NT Reading)
  • When our lives have been changed by the radical nature of ‘gift’, we give to others.
  • IMAGINE: How would generosity transform your marriage…work…friendships

Come back to the altar…

  • Genesis 13 begins and ends with an altar
  • Come to the altar, not just to offer yourself…but to see that God has already given you everything

Sermon Notes and Podcast: “The Story of Us, Pt. 1”

The Story of Us, Pt. 1: “Whose Story Is It?”
Kicking off a series on the life of Abraham through the book of Genesis, Pastor Glenn Packiam invites us to see the story of Abram in Genesis 12 as the story of Israel, the story of humanity, and, more profoundly, the story of grace. It is a story of God making promises where there is no human potential and possibility. Where the ancient Greeks sought a story of glory and postmoderns insist that there is no story or that we must write our own, Genesis invites us into God’s story: the story of grace.

Listen to the sermon HERE.

OT Reading: Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)
NT Reading: Galatians 3:6-9 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: John 1:14, 16-17 (ESV)


The Greeks and glory
Glory was the goal of the ancient Greeks, more so than a long life

Achilles in The Iliad:
“My mother Thetis tells me that there are two ways in which I may meet my end. If I stay here and fight, I will not return alive but my name will live for ever: whereas if I go home my name will die, but it will be long before death shall take me.”

What if your story is not one of glory? (But of failure, or disappointment?)

Or, worse…What if there is no story?

Thomas Nagel [Philosopher]:
“[you could write] a great work of literature that continues to be read thousands of years from now…but “eventually the solar system will cool or the universe will wind down and all trace of your effort will vanish…if you think about the whole thing…it wouldn’t matter if you had never existed.”

Stephen Jay Gould [Harvard Scientist]:
“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures…this explanation, though superficially troubling, is ultimately liberating…we must construct these answers for ourselves.”

The Power of Story

The Bible’s Story

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ “

Genesis 12:10-20 (ESV)
“Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, ‘I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.’ 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, “She is my sister,” so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.’ 20 And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.”

This is the story of Israel. (in miniature)

  • Israel went down to Egypt in a famine, got in trouble with the Pharaoh
  • God sent plagues on the Pharaoh, and Israel was rescued from Egypt

This is the story of us.

  • There is an initial obedience, but then deception that creates distance and vulnerability for the woman
    • The serpent’s deception leads to Adam’s distancing himself from Eve (‘The woman you gave me…’)
    • Abram’s deception leads to a distance between him and Sarai (‘This is my sister…’)
    • Sin may have entered the world through the serpent, but it continues through us!
  • There is a rescue operation! From Egypt…from sin and slavery and death.

Galatians 3:6-7, 9 (CEB)
“Understand that in the same way that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, those who believe are the children of Abraham…Therefore, those who believe are blessed together with Abraham who believed.”

Not just Abram, but you and me: WE have been invited into this story!

STORY: Me becoming an American.

This is the story of grace.

Romans 4:1-5 (CEB)
“So what are we going to say? Are we going to find that Abraham is our ancestor on the basis of genealogy? Because if Abraham was made righteous because of his actions, he would have had a reason to brag, but not in front of God. What does the scripture say? Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Workers’ salaries aren’t credited to them on the basis of an employer’s grace but rather on the basis of what they deserve. But faith is credited as righteousness to those who don’t work, because they have faith in God who makes the ungodly righteous.”

Romans 4:23-24 (CEB)
“But the scripture that says it was credited to him wasn’t written only for Abraham’s sake. 24 It was written also for our sake, because it is going to be credited to us too. It will be credited to those of us who have faith in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

The promise does not match the potential.

  • His wife is barren!
  • Abraham is unworthy.
  • Grace is an undeserved gift.
  • The Gospel is not about decent people being rewarded with heaven; it’s about dead people being made alive!

Are you trying to write your own story, make your own meaning?

  • Bad news: You can’t.
  • Good news: You don’t need to.

Are you trying to win God’s blessing, secure God’s promise, keep God’s favor?

  • Bad news: You can’t.
  • Good news: You don’t need to.

Whose story are you trying to live? God has invited you into HIS!

How do you know that your story has become part of God’s story? You see traces of grace.

Sermon Notes and Podcast: “The Whole Earth is Full of His Glory”

“The Whole Earth is Full of His Glory”
Are Christians to be spiritualists who shut out the world and await escape, or realists who try to take matters into their own hands? Preaching from Isaiah 6, Pastor Glenn Packiam challenges us to begin by seeing the world not as natural or supernatural, but as sacramental– created to be a container for the glory of God. The Seraphim’s singing, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’, challenges the despair of our realism; but Isaiah’s confessing, ‘Woe is me’, challenges the self-righteousness of our spiritualism. We are implicated in the infection of evil in the world. Yet, there is a way for us to become carriers of God’s glory in the world.

Listen to the sermon HERE.

OT Reading: Isaiah 6:1-5 (ESV)
NT Reading: Colossians 2:6-10 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: John 2:14-22 (ESV)

Sabbatical reflection

“Realism” pitted against “spiritualism”

Isaiah 6:1-3 (ESV)
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ ”

What kind of world is this?

  • Natural world vs. Supernatural world
  • ILLUS. Oxytocin, group singing, and the ‘presence of God’
  • Sacramental world: A world made to carry the glory of God

This world is neither natural nor supernatural; it is sacramental.

This world was created to be a container for the glory of God.

“God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation…” – Alexander Schmemann

  • C. S. Lewis: invocational magic vs. incantational magic

The cosmos reverberates with God’s song;

And we are learning to sing along. 

But there’s a problem…

  • The world isn’t just full of the glory of God
  • it’s full of hate and evil and injustice (and that’s just during election season!)

Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)
“And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; /for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ ”

“The whole earth is full of his glory” confronts our “realism”; “Woes is me” confronts “spiritualism”.

Yes, the cosmos reverberates with God’s song, but every time we try to sing along, we keep singing out of tune.

Isaiah 6:6-7 (ESV)
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’ ”

The seraphim’s act is the reversal of King Uzziah’s sin. 

  • [2 Chron. 26] King Uzziah was a great king who won many battles, built strong towers in Jerusalem—defeated their enemies and secured the borders
  • But then he went into the temple overstepped his bounds and tried to offer incense in the temple—to do what only priests could do
  • There is a King Uzziah ‘out there’: 
  • The King Uzziah ‘in here’:
    • The pride that we can be both king and priest

At the root of sin is our attempt to save ourselves.

At the heart of grace is God saving us. 

The invitation is to let “King Uzziah” die…

  • The King Uzziah out there
  • The King Uzziah of our own pride in here

…to see the Lord high and lifted up as the King of Glory…

  • This is not King Uzziah’s world
  • This is my Father’s world

…to see the whole earth full of His glory…

…to confess our own sin…

…and to let the Lord cleanse us so that we can sing along with His song.

We are neither spiritualists nor realists; we are neither pragmatists nor escapists… We are carriers of the glory of God!


Summer Meal Groups – 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.14.11 AMMeal Groups have officially launched for the summer and we have 15 open doors…er…spaces for you to jump in and connect to. GROUPS_Summer 2016

I leave us with a quote about the ‘why’ we do not just small groups, but meal groups?
“Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in the world — this tactile, physical, messy, and beautiful world — no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, and our createdness.” ~Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine

This Functional Family, Pt. 4: “Sadness”

This Functional Family, Pt. 4: Sadness
Sadness is a result of loss, and life is full of losses – from the small and ongoing losses to the large, one-time losses. Yet we often compartmentalize our sadness, keeping it from ourselves, and from others. Pastor Glenn Packiam helps us see how to be a good friend to others during times of loss, and to allow sadness to become a pathway to intimacy in our relationships. Above all, we see Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, entering into our sadness, allowing each of our losses to be way to know Him.


Listen to the sermon HERE.

OT Reading: Job 1:13-19 (ESV)
NT Reading: Romans 12:15-16 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: John 11:20-35 (ESV)

Series Outline and Sabbatical

What is emotion?
Emotions are a pre-reflective appraisal of the world based on our concerns.
Emotions are the ‘eyes of our heart’. Emotions are a way of perceiving the world.

Emotions have ‘themes’, ‘scripts’, and ‘triggers’.

Let’s talk about sadness…

  • We all experience sadness
  • Yet we know that sadness is not inherently attractive (ILLUS. Eyeore)
  • Out of our longing for intimacy, we mask our sadness

What is sadness?

Sadness is the response to a loss, whether perceived or actual.

  • Context-specific
  • Proportionate
    • in magnitude to the intensity of the loss
    • in duration to the permanency of the loss

What kind of ‘losses’ do we experience in life?

  • Loss of ‘attachments’ (relationships)
  • Loss of status (job, money, influence, Twitter follower )
  • Loss of meaning (failure to achieve goals or ideals, collapse of faith)

Losses can be ‘acute’—a one time event—or ‘chronic’—an ongoing reality.

  • Acute: death, illness, firing, divorce
  • Chronic: tough relationship, strained marriage; parenting—kids growing up! Church growing!

Few Biblical characters experienced more loss than Job!
Job 1:13-19 (ESV)
 “Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants[c] with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ ”

Job’s losses:

  • Attachments: children, and then his wife, and later his friends!
  • Status: property, then reputation—people began to think he had sinned
  • Meaning: his clean-cut view of the world (cf. Proverbs) was shattered.

How do we walk through sadness with others?
Give them the gift of presence.

  • The first phase of grief is ‘inarticulate’ (People can’t always say what’s wrong)
  • Be quiet with them!
  • STORY: Sat in silence. Wept with him.

Let them give voice to lament.

  • The second phase is lament.
  • Help them ‘name’ the loss (STORY: Holly at our wedding reception)
  • Lament is a form of protest, a way of saying, ‘It should not be this way!’
  • Don’t correct theology or instruct! The Psalms are full of ‘incorrect’ assessments
  • STORY: Guy saying that he wanted to curse at God

Help them adjust to a new reality.

  • This is the third and final phase of grief
  • There is no ‘going back to how things were’
  • You cannot simply ‘move on’
  • Grief can be ‘inconsolable’ (cf. Rachel’s tears)
  • Movement through these phases is not automatic; people must be helped.
  • STORY: Friend in a bad job (loss of ideal ‘vocation’); friend with a son rehabbing from illness.

Sadness can be a pathway to intimacy, and, eventually, joy.

  • SADNESS is the thing we are afraid to share with others, because it does not typically attract others.
  • INTIMACY: When we take the risk and name our sadness to others, and when we create safe places for others to do so with us, we achieve intimacy.
  • JOY: relationships are perhaps the biggest way God communicates His joy to us
  • ILLUS. ‘Inside Out’

John 11:20-23, 28-35 (ESV)
“So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.’ 23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’…

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35 Jesus wept.”

  • When Martha wanted to talk, Jesus talked with her.
  • When Mary could only manage to weep, Jesus wept with her.

Jesus enters our sadness so that through our sadness we can know Him.

  • In the OT, God is close to the broken-hearted; but in the NT, God became the broken-hearted
  • Because Jesus entered into our sadness, our sadness can be a way of sharing in the fellowship  of His suffering
  • STORY: Spiritual Director helping me see that Jesus is there


A Pastoral Sabbatical: Why and What It Means

I have been given the gift of a pastoral sabbatical this summer. This is a gift that comes round every seven years for full-time employees at New Life Church. Since I have been on staff for 16 years, this will actually be my second sabbatical, for which I am extremely grateful. The last one came as I was making the transition from worship/pastotal ministry to preaching/teaching/pastoral ministry.  My sabbatical will last a little over six weeks.

What is a sabbatical? It’s a good question, not least because ‘sabbath’ is a lost practice in our day. We all get vacations, and ‘time off’, but a sabbath is something altogether different. Sabbath is a time to stop, to rest, to delight, to play, and to be renewed by the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

A sabbatical is meant to be an extended sabbath. Some have asked if I am taking this time to focus on my doctoral work, or to write. The answer is, no. Though I may continue in my reading and writing, the point is to let it be an extended sabbath—holy space to rest and be renewed.

For pastors, the practice of a sabbatical becomes particularly important because of the role we carry in the church. The weight of spiritual leadership is hard to explain or quantify, and yet it can take a very tangible toll on a leader’s soul. Many leaders don’t stop because they don’t feel that they can or that they should. At New Life, we believe that if Jesus went away to pray in silence and solitude, even when the crowds were pressing in, that pastors should too. A once-in-seven-years sabbatical is no substitute for regular rhythms of rest and renewal. And yet, once in seven years, something extra, something longer, something special is given as a gift…the gift of time, the gift of rest, the gift of reflection and renewal while being away. And for this gift, I am grateful.

So, what will we do on my sabbatical?
Holly and I have shaped our sabbatical with three broad aims: rest, recreation, and renewal. Though our time will not necessarily follow this sequence, we have intentionally crafted the weeks to make space for each of these things to take place. There will be times for just Holly and I to be together, there will be fun memory-making activities and adventures with the kids, and there will be cherished time with family and friends.

Every sabbath, in its essence, includes a ceasing—things you will not do—and a delighting—things you will intentionally do. For our sabbatical, the things I will deliberately cease from are:

  • Facebook (checking and posting)
  • Twitter (checking and posting)
  • Instagram (checking and posting)
  • Email
  • My phone! (I will use a completely different phone and phone number!)
  • Content-creation (no sermon writing, blogging, etc)

The things I will intentionally delight in are:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fiction reading: (I’m 300 pages into The Count of Monte Cristo)
  • Non-fiction theology reading
  • A marriage book
  • The Olympics, various soccer tournaments, Broncos mini-camp happenings, and more!

What about New Life Downtown?
Glad you asked. We have such an amazing team! And, we are grateful for incredible friends and partners in ministry. Pastor Evan and Pastor Joey will lead our staff, our team and our services during the six Sundays that I will be out. As for preaching…My dear friend, Jeremiah Parks who leads an amazing ministry called Heartwork, will be preaching on June 19th, wrapping up our series on emotions and relationships with a talk on emotional healing through forgiveness. Then, on June 26th, the amazing Pete Greig from England is going to preach. Pete is the leader of the incredible 24/7 prayer movement, which has had some incredible stories recently that I can’t wait for you all to hear. Then, for the first four Sundays of July, our beloved pastors Evan and Joey will be teaming up to preaching a four-week series on the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, June 12th, will be my last Sunday before the sabbatical. Pray for us. Pray that the Lord would surprise us with joy in beautiful ways, and that our hearts would be drawn closer to Him and to one another as a family during this time.

I love you all and will miss you dearly. See you on July 31st!



This Functional Family, Pt. 2: “Fear”

This Functional Family, Pt. 2: Fear
As we explore how emotions affect our relationships in the family of God, Pastor Glenn Packiam helps us examine the science of emotion to uncover how themes, scripts, and triggers work. Fear is cued by a perceived threat to something or someone we love. While it can have a healthy function, it can also be devastating to our relationships, as we see from the Bible’s story of Jacob. In the end, only lovingkindness can break the power of unhealthy fear in our lives, and re-write the negative scripts we have held onto for so long.

Listen to the sermon HERE.

OT Reading: Genesis 50:15-21 (ESV)
NT Reading: 1 John 4:16-19 (CEB)
Gospel Reading: John 15:13-16 (ESV)

Why talk about emotion?

  • We are made in the image of God
  • The Bible talks about emotions a lot
  • Jesus commands emotions (“Fear not!” “Let not your heart be troubled…”)

Scripture and science

  • Science can help us understand what emotions are and how they work
  • Scripture can help us see how the Holy Spirit is at work in and through our emotions, restoring us to the image of God, making us fully human

Recap: What is emotion?

Emotions are a…pre-reflective appraisal of people and surroundings based on our care or concerns.

Emotions are the ‘eyes of our heart’. Emotions are a way of perceiving the world.

How do emotions work? (Themes, Scripts, and Triggers)

1. Emotions have universal ‘THEMES’.

  • STORY: Ekman setting out to prove that emotions are culturally shaped
  • Themes:
    • Anger = injustice/obstruction of a goal
    • Sadness = loss
    • Fear = threat
  • Themes have variations based on culture and family of origin
  • Our human families shape how we function in the Family of God

2. Emotions involve ‘SCRIPTS’ imported from previous episodes of that emotion.

  • STORY: Ekman and his wife; ‘People are always abandoning me.’
  • We don’t know the scripts that people bring into their relationships

3. Emotions can develop from new ‘TRIGGERS’.

  • The database of triggers remains open
  • ‘That didn’t used to make me afraid, but now it does!’

Fear in the context of relationships…family of origin, family now…

Jacob’s story

  • Born as a twin; came out grasping at Esau’s heel
  • Tricked Esau into trading his birthright
  • Tricked his dad into giving him Esau’s blessing

Fear in Jacob’s life…

  • Afraid Laban would take his family

Gen. 31:26-28, 31 (ESV)
“And Laban said to Jacob, ‘What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28 And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly… 31 Jacob answered and said to Laban, ‘Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.’ ”

  • Afraid Esau would take revenge

Genesis 32:6-8 (ESV)
“And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.’ Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, ‘If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.’ ”

  • Jacob became a cheater and a manipulator to escape his fears.

Fear in Jacob’s family story…

  • Abraham fears for his safety, lies about his wife (Gen. 20).
  • Isaac fears for his life, refers to God as the Fear; (Gen. 22).
  • Isaac fears for his life, lies about his wife (Gen. 26:6-7).
  • Jacob’s sons will fear for their survival in Egypt (Gen. 42-43).

How much unhealthy fear is in your relationships?

  • Caveat: Some fears are the result of broken trust; we should exit those relationships.
  • Fear that she will reject you, that he will hurt you, that they will betray you, that they will abandon you

How can an unhealthy fear be broken?

How are you tempted to take control, to manipulate and make things work?

Genesis 50:19-21 (ESV)
“But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Fear is broken by loving-kindness.

  • Joseph’s loving-kindness at a vulnerable time broke FOUR generations of fear!
  • Joseph re-writes the script in his family!

And so it was for us…

  • Adam and Eve: “…we were afraid and so we hid…”
  • Living generation after generation in fear, hiding—from God, from others, from ourselves…
  • Until Jesus came!

Jesus is the true and better Joseph…

  • He took what the enemy meant for evil—the cross!
  • And turned it for our good! We have an advocate with the Father
  • The riches of God’s resources of grace and love are poured out on us!

1 John 3:1a, 4:18-19 (ESV)
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.”

God is writing His script in your heart: You are Beloved.

  • Through the Holy Spirit, God’s love is poured out in our hearts
    • Pentecost
    • The followers of Jesus able to love beyond their fears
  • Your brain and ‘breath prayers’
    • Can’t erase neuropathways
    • Can’t erase triggers
    • Can form new pathways from a trigger
    • Brennan Manning: ‘Abba, I belong to you.’
    • “Come, Holy Spirit.”

If emotions are perception…How do you see God? 

See Him through the lens of the cross. See others through the lens of the cross.