Fear Isn’t a Design Flaw … It’s a Feature



Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Ever notice how often fear is mentioned in the Bible? Many of the verses tell us to not be fearful. And yet, fear plagues most people. As much as we don’t want to feel it, we feel it.

It may seem to be some “design flaw,” some error in our creation. After all, those verses seem to have the same message: “Fear not.”

Is it a design flaw?

Wouldn’t it be better if God had created us with some critical-detection system that alerts us to things that are important, rather than the instant-fear system we have?

Throughout my career, I have noticed one common thread among people who are stuck. They are caught by fear. At some point, as we slowly peel away the layers of an issue, we discover that the thing that has us stuck is fear – fear of change, fear of hurt, fear of failure and so many other fears.

When I was young, fear kept me stuck. I spun my feet desperately but still didn’t get away. Fear kept me in its grips, and many opportunities passed me by because I was too fearful to try.

Just a couple of years after graduate school, I was offered a teaching position at a university in another country. It would have been an amazing opportunity for me, and an interesting experience for my family. But I passed. It seemed too daunting, too big of a jump. I was worried that I wouldn’t be a good enough professor, that the change would be too much of a challenge for me and my family.

Then I passed on directing a counseling center. I wasn’t sure if I could step up to the challenge. What if the staff didn’t respect me? What if I couldn’t get a foothold in the community?

Both jobs were ideal situations for me. Challenges? Absolutely. But I was more concerned about the stretch than the opportunity. I let fear whisper doubts in my ear.

Then one day, it occurred to me that fear was not a design flaw: it was a design feature! I was not flawed because I felt fear. I was misusing the fear.

You might be misusing fear too. Most people do.

Fear is a bit uncomfortable. We tend to want to run away from the feeling, which usually leads us to avoid what we believe is causing the fear. We learn to pull back from anything that seems to provoke it “because I am afraid.”

Fear is not a “because.” It is an emotion, but an important one. Here are some of my “rules of the road” for dealing with fear.

1) Fear is a natural and normal emotion. Not one to be avoided, but to be noticed. God designed us to fear, but humans have interpreted fear as something to avoid.

2)  Fear is not an “avoidance indicator.” It is an “importance indicator.” Fear simply identifies that something is important. You don’t want to necessarily avoid it, but you do want to pay attention.

3)  Fear comes in two varieties.” First are the “existence fears.” Something poses a threat to your safety – to your existence – and you need to pay attention to remain safe in the face of that threat. The second variety are not real threats. In fact, they may be true opportunities to live the life that God intended for us. This means we must learn to do what makes us fearful.

4)  Fear toleration becomes easier with practice. When we flee from fear as our standard response, we never build up a tolerance for standing in the fear and choosing our action. The emotion of fear does us no harm. The cause of the fear may be a stumbling-block, but will become the path to our best life.

5) Fear allows us to discern God’s path for us. God has equipped us with a system designed to ultimately point the way to God’s path for us. Fear can be a valuable guide if we know how to navigate it. To sum things up: If, for true safety issues, your fear must be avoided, choose avoidance; but if it is something important, pay attention and allow yourself to sit in it. If fear is a sort of compass, discernment is our map, and we have to use these tools side by side.

This will take practice. If we’ve spent a lifetime avoiding what provokes fear, we haven’t spent much time using our discernment. We’ve probably become stuck on the “avoid setting.” It is time to embrace fear and move toward the things it has to teach us.

If you’ve been letting fear keep you from taking action, consider letting fear just point to the important. Take fear on as an advisor to what needs your attention. But don’t let fear keep you from action. Use a little discernment. If there really is a threat, use caution. But if it is really about discovering a bigger life — perhaps even discovering God’s purpose in your life — see that the fear is simply telling you to pay attention.

God calls us to expand into the life meant for us. Let fear guide you, and “fear not.”

Copyright © 2018 Dr. Lee Baucom, used with permission.



How Much Does Your Life Cost?

by Don’t Fear, Only Believe


It’s such a powerful thing. The word is used to indicate how valuable something is, usually the value of an expensive car or your dream house. But also, commonly, it is used to describe a person’s life. We are constantly yearning and seeking to be worth something to someone else. In society, we are constantly told to live your life, your way – your worth being meaningful only to yourself. But you are worth more than anything to a guy called Jesus…

One inspirational woman who I have had the honour of seeing her legacy left behind, has been Lilias Falconer. The Falconer home has a special place in my heart and my family’s hearts, and I’m sure I’ve touched on this subject before in a previous blog. I got the amazing opportunity to visit this amazing orphanage a few years ago in Zambia. But this woman clearly showed why Jesus is worth it all! Lilias was born in 1915 in my home town, Manchester, and at the age of 15 she was telling her family that the call on her life was to go to Africa and to look after babies and children. For her to fulfil this mission, she applied for medical training to train as a nurse. All these applications were refused. In 1939, at the start of World War II, she was accepted into nursing training with the Salvation Army, and after a course in tropical medicine she travelled to Africa to a leper hospital in Zambia. There she saw the plight of little babies left to die when their mothers passed during childbirth. From this, she agreed to look after one baby but soon five babies were brought to her and one her own, she went further into the bus, establishing her Children’s home and Orphanage in the small village of Kabulamema. She died in 1998, and her grave is situated behind the house, in a beautiful lone building, signifying a constant connection to her work. This is a woman who gave up her whole life for Jesus.

The “Waste” of Expensive Perfume

The work of missionaries and people who give up their ordinary lives for extraordinary lives reminds me of a story from the Bible that shows us why Jesus is worth it all…

Clutching the jar tightly in her hands, the woman stood in the doorway and looked into the room. Her heart beat intensely. Her eyes darted back and forth. Her anxiety was at its peak. The room was packed with me, most of them who knew her for the job she did. A prostitute. She consider running away. At that moment, she saw Him. Everything else vanished, the world stopped. Nothing mattered anymore. Running into the room, she fell to the ground, tears forming in her eyes. Breaking her jar open, she poured the expensive perfume in it all over the man’s feet. She loved Him. She was a sinner. But this man, this Jesus, had shown her forgiveness. Everyone else stared at this random woman, shocked by her actions.

“Why have you wasted all that? You could have sold it it and given it to the poor,” the disciples shouted. Then Jesus spoke above the fuss, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done something beautiful for me. You won’t always have me, but you’ll always have the poor. This woman is preparing me for my burial. Listen to me, when the gospel is preached, the memory of her will also be told.” (Matthew 26.6-13).

The Reaction

Imagine if you were one of the disciples. Would you have been angry at the woman? She would have wasted perfume that had cost millions of pounds. But then again, much like the woman in the story, how do we respond to the story of Lilias Falconer? Too often we would respond as the disciples did. When we hear about people giving up their lives in rich, western countries to honour and serve God, we question their choices. Too often we see it as a waste of potential. We may never say it in words but in reality, we are asking the same question the disciples asked, “Why this waste?”

As Christians, we are taught to present our lives as living sacrifices, demonstrating God’s perfect will. Many people, and many Christians, would say if you presented your life in such a way, that you would be vulnerable to the devil and forces of evil. But Paul in Philippians 4.19, clearly states:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

So, in answer to How Much Does Your Life Cost? I think it costs an infinite amount. We have worth because one man spent His worth for our all and so it is never a waste to give Jesus anything. And looking at it this way; it is our only reasonable response.

Thanks for reading.

Don’t Fear, Only Believe

Photo credits – unsplash.com

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Are You One Of The America’s Christians…. Ashamed and Afraid?

May 19, 2019 by David Jolly

The state of the Christian church in America today is nothing like it was when I was young and the change is not a good one.

When I was young, many Christians boldly stood up for Jesus Christ and their faith in Him. They weren’t embarrassed to pray over the meal when eating in a restaurant or in front of other people. They weren’t afraid to stand up against the social recognition of sins and perverse lifestyles.

Sadly, over the past 50 years, millions of American Christians began to compromise with the decaying secular world. Rather than continue to stand up for their faith, they didn’t want offended anyone and they wanted to be inclusive.

Believing they were witnessing to perverse sinners, they opened their doors to them and then began catering to them. Afraid that hearing the truth that they were sinners living a life that God calls abominable, many churches watered down their teaching of God’s Word.

In my late 20’s, I was sick one Sunday morning and stayed home from church. I turned the television on and found the church service of a well-known pastor of a huge church in California. As I sat and listened to him, I was absolutely shocked when I heard him tell his auditorium of several thousand that he was intentionally compromising the Word of God so that they (his parishioners) would feel better about themselves. He repeated telling them how he compromised the Word of God for their sake and the audience applauded him. I later found out that he refused to preach about sin because he didn’t want people to have a poor self-image. He also stated that when Adam fell, he lost his self-esteem and that when we are saved by Jesus Christ that we regain our self-esteem.

I was appalled to learn that this preacher was leading thousands of gullible people to eternity in Hell by teaching them a false Gospel, and sadly, he wasn’t nor has he been the only preacher to teach a false Gospel. Jesus warned us about such false teachers in the following verses:

Matthew 7:15-16: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

Matthew 24:10-12: “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

Matthew 24:23-25: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”

There are other warnings about false teachers and false prophets, but what I want to know is why so many people who claim to be Christians are embarrassed and/or afraid to stand up for what the Bible really teaches?

We’ve all seen far too many examples where a Christian will remain silent or refuse to confront false teaching or preaching. When a Christian stands up and defends homosexuality, they are sharing a false Gospel. When someone stand up and says that everyone who leads a good life will go to heaven is teaching a false Gospel and the list goes on and on.

There is far too much emphasis in our culture today about not offending others and being all inclusive, but that is NOT what the Bible teaches and it’s not what Jesus taught. Far too many Christians are afraid to be a true follower of Jesus Christ, especially when He warned us:

Matthew 10:17-22:

“Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Are you willing to endure the hatred and treatment of the secular world for Christ’s sake or are you one of those who is afraid of offending someone or losing everything you own? Be honest!

If Christians lived their faith the way Muslims live theirs, America would still be a Christian nation and many of the problems we see in our nation today would not exist. America is the way it is today because too many Christians are afraid or embarrassed to stand up for and live their faith.


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The “A” Word

May 10, 2019 by Discerning Dad



Men…we were created in the image of God to be the covering for our families…the rock, the foundation, the supplier, the hunter/gatherer, the fix-it guy, the put-gas-in-my-car guy, the guy who has all the answers for our kids crazy questions….the guy who mows the lawn and pulls weeds.

Well darn…that’s a lot of responsibility.

But do we let our family see us sweat about it? Heck no. Instead, we bottle in our feelings, restrict our positive emotional output and kick the dog when we are frustrated. If the dog’s not available, we kick the wife and kids…. maybe not physically but certainly emotionally.

A man’s hidden paradigm – anxiety – we bury it deep inside and don’t let ANYONE in to see all of it…maybe glimpses, but that’s all. The American culture is to keep anxiety buried (or medicated) so it can’t be seen. I have been (and still sometimes am) that man. The problem is that anxiety isn’t just about being worried. As men we don’t stand around wringing our hands waiting for things to get better.

We usually look for some sort of outlet to divert the need to think about the things that cause us stress…. any distraction. It can be sports, obsessing over a hobby, or maybe burying ourselves in our job. These things are socially acceptable…and the church community generally doesn’t have an issue with either.

On the socially “unacceptable” end of the spectrum, anxiety can also be the conduit that leads to other issues. We were designed to be on this earth and walk in the power and authority of God, but we trade that power and authority for other things.

Fear, Anger, Lust, Control

These attributes can be manifest in many ways…. family abuse, substance abuse, pornography, affairs…. pick your poison. If you are doing something not honoring God, I guarantee you know it. We may be very good at hiding our sins, but we know the entire time, unequivocally, that it is sin. But is this how God instructs us to deal with stress?

So, what does the Word say about how to deal with anxiety?

Let’s look at a scripture that Paul wrote while sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell, probably hungry (hangry?) and thirsty and not knowing what his fate may be at the very next moment…. a perfectly good reason to be stressed out….and probably a bit agitated.

Phil 4: 4-9 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Okay men…let’s break this down.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always …I will say it again, REJOICE! – God is our #1 priority! You are NOT rejoicing in your circumstances…. you are rejoicing in who God is and that He is with you during your circumstances. If you place your problems and circumstances before God, they are an idol in your life.

2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. – RELAX…. This begins very close to you and your circle of influence. At home. With the kids. With your wife. With the dog. Alone in the car dealing with traffic. At work. In public. Stop being defensive. Don’t feel the need to prove you are right. Take a cue from Elsa…. LET IT GO.

3. The Lord is near. Duh…you know this…. or at least you should.

4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
a. Bring your situations to God – Pray immediately and let God know specifically what your worries are.
b. Be THANKFUL – THIS IS HUGE! Let God know how much you appreciate all He has done in your life!! Think about this…. How great do you feel when your kids show you appreciation and gratitude just for being Dad??

5. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
a. Our Promise from God for being obedient to verses 4-6!

6. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
a. Verses 8 & 9 are NECESSARY!
b. Whatever unnecessary things in life cause you anxiety cut them out…This is necessary and will require for you to do some soul searching. If our current political situation causes you stress, stop watching the news, cut out social media, stop letting people bait you into conversations that get you fired up. YOU know your triggers. Identify them and leave them alone. Think about things that are pleasing to God…. I don’t think our Savior cares too much about Russian collusion.

7. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
a. And the God of peace WILL be with you. Wow! Mic drop.

Prayer: Lord – In the midst of my problems I choose to focus on YOU!! Regardless of the difficulties my path may present, YOU are GOD and YOU are MIGHTY, and YOU are SOVERGN. I will trust in YOU and LEAN on YOU for all things in my life. LORD, THANK YOU for all that YOU are in my life, Thank YOU for my family, my existence and the opportunity to REJOICE in YOU. I give my worries to YOU and accept the PEACE that YOU promise in my life. I choose today to focus on YOU and the things that please YOU. LORD, make your path and will clear to me daily. In JESUS MIGHTY name! Amen!

Jordan Lynde
Guest Discerning Dad


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