New Hope Notes
I'm Too ...
Pastor Jon Burgess
Aloha! I am so excited today to take our last Fear Project adventure of facing one of our biggest fear—sharks. I don’t know how many of you have ever swam with sharks but I have not because it didn’t seem like a good idea—but today, we’re gonna do it!
Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. I have Pastor Rod Shimabukuro of New Hope Manoa, Pastor Pat McFall of New Hope Hawaii Kai, and Pastor John Danganan of New Hope Community in Aina Haina. It is always good to face your fear with others. The whole idea of this Fear Project is that we don’t face our fears alone. We face it in a community and with our Lord who gives us great strength to face anything!
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Here’s why we shouldn’t trust our own thinking and our own understanding. Remember when I faced the spiders? I was more afraid of spiders than the sharks I’m about to see. That doesn’t make any sense but fear is irrational and illogical. It can hold us captive in prison. I can hold a spider in my hand but a shark can eat my hand—so that doesn’t make any sense! Fears in our lives may not necessarily destroy us, but they have power over us.
I will put my trust in the Lord in areas where fear controls my life. I will put my trust in this cage to keep me safe from being eaten by sharks! My faith is also in the captain of this boat because he knows what he is doing to make sure we are safe. I will not lean on my own understanding; I will do whatever the captain says to do.
PASTOR ROD: “Oh, man, I’m ready to rumble, not with sharks, though.”
PASTOR JON: “I’m more scared of the guys I’m riding with and their seasickness. I’m getting more nervous now that I’m at the water.”
PASTOR PAT: “Yeah, I’m nervous. I don’t like the deep blue. Almost drowned at Makapuu. Saw a baby shark when I was surfing at Ala Moana Bowls years ago. Crazy. No way!”
PASTOR JOHN D: “I’m extremely nervous. I’m not much of a waterman. I get seasick. I almost drowned at China Walls, so I’m really afraid!”
PASTOR JON: “I told my family, ‘Just in case I don’t make it back, I want you to know I love you.’ They were like, ‘Whatever, Dad.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, this is dangerous!’”
CAPTAIN REIS: We are at Haleiwa, North Shore (Oahu). Right behind us in the water are about a dozen Galapagos sharks. They’re characterized as a mid-depth-level shark and this is their territory, about 450 feet deep. You must respect them, but not fear them! They are very curious animals so they will come up to you and check you out. They could bump into you with their noses. There’s never been a reported attack on a human by a Galapagos shark in Hawaiian waters. If you see a shark, don’t panic because if you do, you send off the same signal as a sick and dying fish, and that’s an easy prey sharks hunt for! If you are with a group of people, the sharks will stay about 10 feet away; when you’re by yourself, they are a lot more aggressive. So there’s actually safety in numbers.
Our shark swim was rescheduled to this week because last week the captain said the waters were too choppy, the waves were too big, and we would be tossed around in the cage! Never thought I would ever swim with sharks but it’s a lot easier than I thought because I am doing it with people I trust—they had done this before and make sure we are safe—while we face our fears!
When God calls us to do something, we think…
1. I’m Too…Young/Old. Will I Trust The Lord’s Timing? The “I’m too…” statements keep us from doing what God is calling us to do. We are usually fearful to obey because we’ve either never done it before or we’ve seen others fail.
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called, and every single one of us is called if you know Jesus Christ. It’s a matter of trusting the Lord’s timing.
Jeremiah 1:5-8 NIV: “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”
God’s timing is perfect. You’re not too young or too old. You are perfect in the Lord to speak into a chaotic situation. Jeremiah wasn’t sure if he could trust God’s timing but he said, “Sovereign Lord.” Sovereign means the one in control who sees and knows all things.
2. I’m Too…Unqualified. Will I Trust The Lord’s Training?
Jeremiah is being trained to see what God sees. The Israelites were looking at idols and worshipping false gods.
Jeremiah 1:9-12 NIV: “Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’ The word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree,’ I replied. The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that My word is fulfilled.’”
God will train us to see what He sees when we look toward the things of God and away from the things of the world. Whatever we look at affects what goes on into our hearts—we become what we see! We would never purposely allow something into our lives that would destroy our relationships, but if we are looking at the wrong things, we let the enemy in and take whatever he wants!
When we do not pay attention to what’s going on around us and are not trained by God, we allow the shark to get inside our cage (home, mind, relationships with spouse, family, and friends).
Matthew 5:27-30 NIV: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
What you see with your eyes, you do with your hands. Your attention determines your action!
3. I’m Too…Busy. Will I Trust The Lord Today?
If the Lord asks you to do something, you can trust Him to give you the ability to carry it through!
Jeremiah 1:17-19 NIV: “‘Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”
God is saying, “I need you to speak up today. My people need to hear a word. They won’t like you after you say it.” Would you volunteer or will you say, “I’m sorry, God. I’m too busy” for fear of confrontation. God is desperately calling us to speak life into each other.
You’ll either be trained by the Holy Spirit and His Word and see what He sees, or be trained in the classroom of our culture. We no longer have a prophetic voice. We have a pathetic voice. Good is bad. Bad is good. Black is white. White is black. After a while, everything blurs together. We sound like the world around us.
Where will people hear the truth of God except from those that follow Jesus? If you and I are too busy to speak the truth in love, they may never hear it anywhere else. People may not want to hear what you have to say, but afterwards, they will be glad you said it.
Here are ways to speak up when facing the fear of confrontation.
Ephesians 4:15 NIV: “… speaking the truth in love.” You actually must love the person you’re speaking to. Before speaking the truth, always ask for God’s heart of love for that person. That way, it doesn’t come out like you’re beating them over the head with the word of God.
Colossians 4:6 NIV: “Let your conversation be always full of grace...” Let your speech be seasoned with grace; not with letting them know where they have it wrong!
Isaiah 50:4 NIV: “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”
God wants you to give a word for somebody in your life—spouse, son, daughter, co-worker, or friend. You’ve been putting it off because you’re worried about how they will react. The truth is, they need to hear it.
Your job is to say what you see; God’s job is to fulfill it in their heart. You don’t have to convict or change anybody. You can’t heal anybody. All you must do is to say what God has put on your heart. It may seem awkward and confrontational but if you do it out of love, it could be the catalyst that changes their life. You’re the only one listening to God in their behalf right now. Watch what God does when you speak to them today.
It’s not criticism. Criticism focuses on fault; critique focuses on a way forward. Criticism focuses on what is lacking, critique on what is working. Criticism focuses on condemning, critique clarifies what it is God wants to do in their life. Criticism is cruel; critique is kind. Criticism is sarcastic; critique is sincere. If God is critiquing our lives, it is because He loves us and He disciplines those He loves. When He is asking Jeremiah to speak up, it’s not because He hates his people for what they are doing, He loves them and wants them free. He wants that for the people in our lives as well.
In the classic Spielberg movie Jaws, there’s a scene where everybody is running out of the water because they see shark fins coming towards them. Suddenly, the close up shows two kids with fake shark fins on their backs.
The Lord wants you to know that the fears that are holding you back are fake fins. In the scope of how big our God is your fears are fake fins. They have no bite, cannot eat or destroy you. God wants to reveal His will to you.
Some of us have been running our entire life in fear and the enemy has you where He wants you, but the Lord is saying, “It’s fake fins. I am in control!”