Love Fiercely



*Included in text below are notes for your convenience, so that you can follow along with the message if you would like.*


“I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.”



  • That’s the warning you see on the passenger-side mirror of your car or type of vehicle.
  • The convexity of the mirror gives you a more panoramic rear view, but it also makes the cars behind you look smaller, & further away than they are.


Have you ever been driving, & wondered – “Why is everybody so upset?” I know we all have a worry at times inside of us that seems to drive us, but why is everybody so upset? We have the best of everything in this country, but there are a lot of things that we do that produce anxiety.

Time magazine conducted a poll that cost $15 million with the National Institute of Health over a six-year period. They recently reported that the No. 1 problem in America is anxiety.

  • More than 13 million Americans are afflicted by it, & anxiety, not drugs, is the No. 1 cause of suicide in America.
  • There is one suicide every two minutes in the United States, and the largest age group is between 15 and 24. 




We look in the rear-view mirror of life – & our problems seem to be closer than they appear | The haters & the opinions of others may be closer than they appear | That person that hurt you & the pain from it may be closer than it appears… It goes on & on.


So many times, we do not realize it, but we work the worry machine in our lives way more than the lifestyle of faith… We do a lot of things to make sure that the worry rules us & stays in full operation, instead of letting hope or faith lead the way.




A man in Australia in 1939 discerned by reading the news that the South Pacific Basin was going to be caught up in a war very soon. He didn’t know when, but he knew it was going to erupt into a war, so he wanted to do the most he could so that his family would be safe. He looked at a map of the South Pacific to determine the safest place because he was going to sell everything he had in Australia and move his family there.

So, he did. When he found that place, he liquidated his business & all of his holdings, he put everything in cash, & moved to Guadalcanal. This ended up being the site of one of the most horrible battles fought in the South Pacific during World War II.



We all have a worry & fear that can work like a machine inside of us. If you do not know this: 

  • Worry is thinking that has turned toxic.
  • Worry is the imagination used to picture the worst.
  • Worry is interest we pay on trouble before it appears. 



Statistics of Worry:

Over 50% of the things we worry about never happen.

25% of the things we choose to stay worried about cannot be changed by simply worrying.

12% are things past.

10% are petty, miscellaneous things that don’t amount to anything.

3% of the things I worry about are legitimate.


The problem is trying to determine which of the things I am concerned about fall into the three percent.

  • We are breaking the first commandment because we don’t believe that God can take care of our issues.


When we worry, we doubt God’s ability, his providence, and his presence. We think God is not capable of knowing about us and is not concerned about us. We fracture, scatter, break, & crumble the first commandment, Thou shall have no other Gods before me.


We dethrone God and put ourselves in his place. 

Worry is also slow suicide. People have said to me, “I am worried sick about this.” That is a true statement because worry does make us sick. Worry will make us sick.

The root of the word worry in the Greek is “to choke or strangle.”


It does choke us down & strangle us. What happens when we worry? It only changes the worrier; it does not change what we are worrying about.



Although I read the suicide rates a moment ago, many people do not simply commit a sudden suicide. We destroy ourselves slowly by worrying over things that exist only in our minds. It is not the work that kills people; it is the worry.




Work makes people stronger and better and is healthier.

Like rust on the blade, worry is rust in our lives.

It is not the movement of the machinery that destroys it; it’s the friction and rust that destroys it.


“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

OK, now I have told us all not to worry. But telling people not to worry only does one thing. You worry about why you can’t quit worrying.



He notes that there are two kinds of shepherds:

  • The good shepherd, who owns the sheep & takes care of them when the wolves come & scatter the flock.
  • & the shepherd who was hired, they were brought in under contract to take care of them & runs when wolves attack the flock.


The good shepherd stays and never abandons his sheep. Jesus does not abandon us.

You may not understand all that God is doing. You may seem like you are living in a fog – & it seems like we are all along… & yet the Good Shepherd does care for us.


The leopards, the lions, the bears can never destroy the sheep because the shepherd is there.

He is the Good Shepherd. You say, “I have prayed and nothing happened.” I know that feeling. Nothing happens immediately. We are so conditioned to see the television miracles where somebody prays and suddenly angels come with harps in their hands.



We don’t understand that God is not scripted by Hollywood. We need to know that God has his purposes, & the purposes of God will not be delayed.


As we begin this new year, we need to consider what is behind us because Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.


The past impacts the present.




I came across a story the other day that says speaks of what happens to us and in us when we choose to let the past break us down. The story is called: The City Of Regret. 



I had not planned to take a trip this year, yet I found myself packing anyway. & off I went, dreading it. I was on another guilt trip. I booked my reservation on Wish I Had airlines. I didn’t check my bags – everyone carries their baggage on this airline – & I had to drag it for what seemed like miles in the Regret City airport.

I could see that people from all over the world were there with me, limping along under the weight of the baggage they had packed themselves.

I caught a cab to the Last Resort Hotel, the driver taking the whole trip backward, looking over his shoulder. There I found the ballroom where my event would be held: The Annual Pity Party.

As I checked in, I saw that all my old colleagues were on the guest list:

The Familie – Woulda, Coulda, & Shoulda

Both of my Opportunities – Missed & Last

All the Yesterdays – there were too many to count, but all would have sad stories to tell.

Shattered Dreams & Broken Promises would be there, too, along with their friends, Don’t Blame Me and Couldn’t Help It.

Hours & hours of entertainment would be provided by that renowned storyteller, It’s Their Fault.

As I prepared to settle in for a really long night, I realized that one person had the power to send all those people home & break up the party:


All I had to do was return to the present & welcome a new day!

Every major difficulty you face in life is a fork in the road.

You choose which track you will head down, toward breakdown or breakthrough! If you have found yourself getting on a flight to the City of Regret, recognized that it is a trip that you book yourself, & you can cancel it at any time – without penalty of fees. But you are the only one who can!

As Lewis Carroll once said, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.”

Life isn’t lived in reverse!




“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


You know, sometimes nearness is a good thing. Sometimes not so much.

You may not know, but when Paul is writing this letter from prison in Philippians. He possibly is facing a death sentence. I mean, he should have worries of his own.

FIRST, he says turn your worries into prayer.




Give to God that which you have no control over anyway.

Jesus asked in the Sermon on the Mount: “Can you by your worrying add one hour to the span of your life?”

& the first thing to do with our worries is to pray them away.

Pray that you will overcome them, instead of the worry overcoming you. Pray that God will transform those worries into something positive, something that you can do. Pray for hope that is stronger than your fears. Pray for faith & hope that is greater than your doubts. Pray away your worries.


 SECOND, Paul offers the nearness of God as the solution to our worries.




Hope is never far away for those who hope in God.


So, Paul says that we can rejoice even when imprisoned by the powers of this world because of the one who is greater is near. We can rejoice even when the world weeps, even when we weep, because the one who knows our tears, feels our grief, is near.



We can rejoice because our faith is in the one who is not defeated by death, & will not be stopped by hatred, fear, or violence. 



We get to choose what we focus on. We have power to overcome anything… with God!