The key to love and fear

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You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at you command

       – from the song, “Get Together” by the Youngbloods

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

       – 2 Timothy 1:7

It’s been a learning week. I led you through a dark tunnel where I succumbed to my fears and intimidations. I forgot who I was for a while. I didn’t listen to the Lord. I knew better, but still I had to experience what I was feeling, so I wrote about it and hit “SEND” before I gave myself a chance to find a way out.

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Fear or Faith

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The last two Catches, taken together, make another Catch. Tuesday’s Catch, “Where’s the Reverend Doctor?” was a disaster. Marti thought it was my worst ever. Had I shared it with her first, you never would have seen it. As it was, it served as a request for prayer, which a number of you kindly wrote me that you were taking on my request. The part’s fine. I will never turn down an offer for prayer, and I am seeking prayer for this. Thank you.

This all has to do with a memorial service I’m taking on for my friend Arnold in a couple weeks. As I was beginning to hear more stories about Arnold’s life, and some of his friends, who will probably be there, I was beginning to grow more and more intimidated. On Tuesday, I just couldn’t see past the boulder in the road. I stopped, and couldn’t go farther.

Normally, I don’t write a whole Catch on my depression and leave it there. This time I did. I made you wait a whole day before I could find my way out. I decided to just be honest about what I was feeling, which is what I usually try to do in my writing. I just don’t normally leave you hanging there holding the bag. I was even questioning whether I was the right guy to deliver the message. Get one of those Reverend Doctors they have on the church staff — that’s what everyone will be expecting anyway.

By the next day (yesterday) I had another Catch, “After further review…” that was full of confidence in the Holy Spirit and my spiritual gift, and reestablished myself as the man for the job. (I better be, because I am the one Arnold requested.)

I kind of feel bad about leaving everyone stuck on Tuesday, but that’s where I was at, and maybe we all learned something in the process. It’s pretty simple, really. At any given time, we have the option to look at ourselves; look at the circumstances; look at the dark side; look at the enemy; or look to the Lord and to the empowerment He has promised us. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness: you can look at the giants in the land or look to the Lord who promised to give you the land, who is much bigger than the giants. Choose fear or faith. It really boils down to that.

I love what J.J. wrote me after yesterday’s Catch: “Now that’s the John Fischer I know!!!”

Thanks J.J.! It’s good to be back.

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After further review …

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since yesterday’s Catch and I believe I have a few wrongs to right. I’m not quite sure what got into me yesterday; it certainly wasn’t what I truly know or believe. First, I’m not as pathetic as I sounded. You don’t want the white-haired guy I pictured with the robe — the Reverend Doctor — speaking at Arnold’s memorial service; you want me. I’m the guy, and I’m the right guy. I know this probably more than anything I know right now. I’ve been in hundreds of situations like this before, enough to know what happens when the Holy Spirit kicks in with my gift. I know this so well, that no matter how well I prepare, I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say.

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Where’s the Reverend Doctor?

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The Reverend Doctor, at least this is what comes up if you google images.

I just wrote to someone who said they would be praying for me as I prepare to speak at Arnold’s memorial service two weeks from Saturday, “Thank you so much. I really need your prayers. I’m already nervous about this one — excited, but nervous.”

The more I hear about Arnold’s storied career and the colorful people around him including his friends and his enemies, the more intimidated I become. All of the final services I have taken part in have had mostly believers present. People are sad, but they’re hopeful. They have a belief that sustains them. They welcome the truth about Christ and the resurrection; it bolsters their faith to hear it again. This will be different. This could easily swing the other way.

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What the world needs now (is what we’ve got)

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It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of …

Coming off of a patriotic week, it’s only right that we would check our own commitment to the things that will make a real difference in our country. A year ago, author and social critic, Os Guinness, told us it was an exciting time to live because America was at a crisis greater than any since the Civil War. The exciting part is that you and I have what the country needs now more than ever, and I am sure this is even more true a year later. What the country needs is:

1. Truth

2. True freedom

3. Love for those who are different

4.  A prayer connection with God

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But for this death

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We’re about ready to close the book on Arnold. The Memorial Service will be two weeks from tomorrow at Laguna Presbyterian Church. At Arnold’s request, I will be bringing the message.

Attendance could be significant. Arnold was a rather well-known public figure in his day, especially in local politics here in Orange County. He is responsible for a number of innovative marketing techniques that got people elected and propositions passed. Some of those tactics were particularly cutthroat which made him as many enemies as friends. He was not the kind of person to care what people thought of him. There’s even a 2014 article in the New York Times about their unusual contemporary art collection which includes a 5,000 pound rusted bulldozer in the entryway of their home. “This will shock everybody who comes into the house,” Arnold is quoted as saying, four years ago. “It’s not your normal picture on the wall.”

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Grace patriots

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“John and Marti, I’m struggling to find the words, so I’ll just share that Arnold’s story, your friendship with him, his reunion with our Heavenly Father, and his and Marie’s love for each other have touched my heart.”  – Grace Patriot

This day after Independence Day is an appropriate day to read something from someone with the name, Grace Patriot. I normally avoid printing a person’s full name in a Catch, so my apologies to Grace, but I could not help it. I love what Grace wrote here, but I also love her name. Her name is a reminder of where we stand as followers of Christ in America. We are first Christians, members of Christ and His kingdom. Secondly, we are Americans, and our patriotism is seasoned by grace. Grace is underserved favor, and undeserved favor is what we grant to everybody, even our enemies, because God has granted it to us.

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The gospel according to George Beverly Shea

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My friend, Arnold, who passed away Saturday night, two days after his 82nd birthday, loved listening to George Beverly Shea sing hymns and gospel songs. He had an Alexa player by his bed, and at least once a day, his wife, Marie, would call for a George Beverly Shea shuffle. For Marie and me, who both grew up on hymns, it was a welcome return to familiar territory. “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” and of course, “How Great Thou Art” brought back a lot of childhood emotions.

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