It seems that everywhere I look I see or hear the word fear. It comes moment by moment in newscasts and the posts on social media. It shows up on titles of blogs and new books. Perhaps it even can whisper in our ear when we are not paying attention. It reminds us that we live in a dangerous world. What we may need to hear and see more of are the evidences of ‘God with us’ in the midst.
To that end, Nothing to Fear: Principles & Prayers to Help in a Threatening World by Barry C. Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate, speaks truth in reminders of who we are in Christ and how to find our way back to focus on Him when we slip down the primrose path fear might tempt us toward.
In the Author’s Note he lays it out plainly for the reader:
“Believers in God shouldn’t be surprised by the realities of a sometimes predatory world. After all, didn’t Jesus say that ‘here on earth you will have many trials and sorrow’?”
“But didn’t he also say, ‘Take heart, because I have overcome the world’? The apostle Paul warned his protégé Timothy that godly living invites persecution. Are you prepared to live fearlessly in a threatening world?”
Black’s words feel much like someone has opened a window to allow fresh air into a room that is filled with heavy oppressiveness. In truth, he holds each of us as believers to account without using those words if we have been tempted to ring our hands in the midst of this life.
The book is divided into seven sections based on seven principles that Black defines as those that Jesus gave his disciples before sending them into a dangerous world. That too stands as a clear reminder that this world has always been a dangerous place and never more so that for those in any era who sought to follow the Lord.
What are the seven principles that form the backbone of this book?
- Prepare to be sent (Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:1)
- Do a reality check (Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2-3)
- Thrive in a predatory world (Matthew 10:16-20; Luke 10:3)
- Be as wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16)
- Be as innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16)
- Concentrate on the task (Matthew 10:5-8)
- Persevere through rejection (Matthew 10:11-14; 21-23)
Barry Black has had many experiences in his life to face tests based on these principles. He has served as chaplain of the United States Senate since 2003 following his retirement from the U.S. Navy after 27 years in the military, ending his service as a two-star admiral and chief of Navy chaplains. He is also a husband and father of three sons.
Black puts at the front of the book the questions some of us may think, but not verbalize:
“Perhaps you’re wondering why our Good Shepherd would send his lambs out among wolves? Perhaps it’s because our Shepherd knows that hardship builds strength and character.”
“Perhaps it’s because he knows he will protect his sheep, just as David delivered his flock from the lion and a bear. Perhaps our shepherd puts us in a precarious situation because he is always there with us.”
“Or maybe we are placed in a predatory world because the master provides us with the equipment we need to survive, and he wants us to trust him.”
These precepts are expanded with specific direction as each section of the book moves forward providing the reader with encouragement and reminders of whose we are and whose we are to be as disciples living in a dangerous, predatory world.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.