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A review of
A Fresh Look at Fear: Encountering Jesus in our Weakness
Paperback: YWAM Publishing, 2015
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Reviewed by Hillary Jo Foreman
Like most children, I was afraid of many things while growing up. I was afraid of spiders, the Boogey Man and, of course, the dark. The majority of children outgrow superficial fears such as these, replacing them with more matured versions. I, too, allowed my fears of monsters in the closet to transform into real life fears of finances and failure. I have been in the church all my life so Christian fears also bloomed. Am I following God’s will? Why doesn’t he speak to me? What happens if people judge me?
Fear is a powerful emotion for all people, often controlling our actions and moods more than we would like to admit. The word “fear” appears over 500 times in some translations of the Bible, but many Christians shy away from talking about it. We are afraid of sounding weak and know we ought to trust God to take care of the things that scare us. Even though God is always with us, fear still exists and is a component of daily life that all people must deal with.
Dan Baumann in A Fresh Look at Fear embraces the fear in his life and addresses the topic with wisdom. He does not shy away from sharing personal encounters with fear, but encourages his readers boldly. He is able to do so because of the many scary experiences he has had in his life. He has spent much time in Afghanistan and was even imprisoned in Iran for a while. Baumann shared this story and many others of the fears he has had to face in his life and the ways in which God delivered him from those fears.
The wisdom he imparted throughout the book came from lessons he learned in his own life and from others. He used several passages from the Bible in each chapter to show where God speaks on each aspect related to fear.
Not only did I enjoy the content of the book, but I loved the easy, conversational style Baumann used. The book was concise, but still managed to cover many impactful areas of fear. A couple of his chapters dealt with specific fears like fear concerned with finances or fear of losing control. Other chapters addressed the reality of fear and of “risky obedience” in fear (61). Each chapter is split up with subtitles for easy reading and an appropriate prayer marks the end of each chapter.
Baumann’s work truly enlightened and inspired me. The book can be enjoyed by all ages and I believe most people will find Baumann’s message very useful. The main purpose is to point readers towards Jesus in the midst of their fears. Fear is a real struggle, but Jesus is greater and He will walk with us through every fear. Whether you are afraid of the Boogey Man or identity crisis, A Fresh Look at Fear is an excellent read.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com