Anxiety!

ANXIETY! PSYCHIATRISTS, COUNSELORS, PASTORS and others who are in the helping/healing professions deal regularly with upset, scared, anxious people. There are a thousand reasons why people live lives of distress and uneasiness.  Even the Psalmist said, “ … my soul refused to be comforted.”

Psalms 77:2 (kjv)

It’s far beyond my ability to provide a complete answer, but I’m convinced that the closest answer is this:

“Be careful for nothing [force yourself to reject worry]; but in every [little] thing by prayer [when was the last time you got alone with God] supplication [humble prayer] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God [tell Him – He loves to hear you praise Him].  And [this is what is going to happen] the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (kjv)

I have NEVER read anything in the Bible that in order to have peace you should eat cheese with your whine!  It says,

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”
Philippians 4:4-5 (msg)

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You Think You Have Problems?

YOU THINK YOU HAVE PROBLEMS?  THE LORD gave us this illustration about Job.

  • He was rich and threw big parties.
  • He pleased God.
  • He was attacked by Satan.
  • Tragedy struck and he lost everything.
  • In it all, Job didn’t sin, and blessed God to boot.
  • But then he lost his health and got stinking boils all over his body.
  • His wife began to bug him and said, “Why don’t you just curse God and die.”  Nice woman, huh?
  • Job kept his mouth shut. Smart guy.
  • Job, being human, teetered on the edge of despondency and said, “What I ALWAYS FEARED has finally happened.” There’s a lesson here.
  • To top it off, his fair weather friend, Eliphaz, claimed he got a secret message from a spirit and Job’s hair stood on end (scared spitless). Of course it was bad news. They never bring good news.
  • Job’s other friends also chimed in with bad news.
  • Once again, being human Job started to question God. “Don’t just condemn me – tell me why you are doing this to me!”  God didn’t cause his problems and He didn’t answer.
  • Then Job came to his senses. His faith in God was stronger than his pain.
  • “God may kill me for this, nevertheless, I’m gonna argue my case before him.” That’s reasonable.
  • So Job prayed (AMEN!): “O God, I’m gonna keep this simple. Two things: (1) don’t abandon me; (2) don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.”
  • Job’s “friends” began to bug him again.
  • WE BETTER TAKE NOTE OF THIS – “There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me, in highest heaven, some ATTORNEY who can clear my name— My CHAMPION, my FRIEND, while I’m weeping my eyes out before God.”   (Job 16:17-20)
  • Job didn’t give up. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27)
  • “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” (Job 42:12)

    JUST ASKIN’: DID ANY LIGHTS COME ON?

Really?

WASN’T IT SHAKESPEARE WHO WROTE, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so?” This has been debated by academics, moralists and theologians for centuries.  Are we supposed to apply this to our ethics, behavior, religion, relationships?

• Should we think of unintended consequences?

• What about the greatest good to the greatest number of people?

If so, we would be forced to say that as long as we have acceptance by great numbers of people then regardless of our behavior, it makes it right! There would indeed be no right or wrong, good or bad – it would entirely depend on how many people accepted your theory, philosophy, ideology or theology.

• I grew up in a parsonage/manse; Daddy was the pastor of a church.  Much to my dismay, it was said to me, “Marshall Hall, what will other people think?!”  So to a great extent, good and bad was determined by prevailing thought within the group. Yes, I was taught right from wrong, but to a large extent whatever the Discipline, Manual or Sister Whatshername said took priority.

• Power or the exercise of power does not make an action right.

• Among my many business failures (I was a stockbroker for 30 years, but had businesses on the side), an employee quit and started his own business in competition with my business. No problem… except he stole some of my inventory to do so. His excuse? “Well that’s just business.” Really? Ethics?

• Ask yourself, is your sense of right and wrong dependent on being competitive?

• At first blush we may think that everything would be great if everybody performed exactly like we demanded.  Oh, I see! (?)

• There was a time recorded in the Old Testament when each man “did what was right in his own eyes” rather than by God’s directive. It ended in disaster and the Israelites were defeated; slaughtered, conquered!

IN THE REAL WORLD of human behavior people will always act like people. Therefore, it seems to me that the best answer to behavior, purity and personal joy is to have a standard measure. The standard should be the WORD OF GOD, The HOLY BIBLE.

The Silent Treatment

WHEN GOD GIVES YOU THE SILENT TREATMENT, what should you do…  or think?  Is He like your wife, husband, mother-in-law, or boss who uses silence as a whip?  When it seems God isn’t the Love-God but the Angry-God, should you shake your fist, or fall on your face?
“Yeah, yeah I’ve read all the books and listened to the sermons,” you say, “but you’ve never walked in my shoes or faced what I’m facing!”
I know. I know.  But you’re not alone. Many times in the Old Testament people felt as you do. The Psalmist said,  “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”  (Psalm 13:1)  “Well, that was in the Bible and I need help right now!  See, you just don’t understand!”

Alright, let’s get to some answers.

  1. In the past God actually spoke to people.  They heard Him. Sometimes He spoke through fire and miracles. This was followed by the prophets who spoke for God.  Later He spoke through His incarnate Son, Jesus The Messiah. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
  2. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave us the Comforter, The Holy Spirit (Counselor, Advocate).  He, “the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually, for he lives with you AND WILL BE IN YOU.  (John 14:17)
  3. Is He in you? Aside from your  feelings, do you believe that Jesus died to redeem you and that you repented of your sins and that you agreed to follow Him?  That’s the place to start!
  4. When you think God is hiding His face, He isn’t.  God does not play hide & seek and He doesn’t want you to either.  You may have your eyes closed.  You may have abandoned your confidence in the power of the cross.  No, I’m not saying that you abandoned your salvation.  You may be a child of God, but you’re still a human being with all your weaknesses, faults and failures.  So get over it.
  5. I’m not saying that life is always easy – been there, done that.  And,  I’m not saying that your feelings will always be in tip-top shape.  For pete’s sake, you may have a cold or the flu and some other emotionally draining challenge such as a failure in marriage or finances – even physically.  The question is, do you still believe in the God who said, “I will NEVER leave you, nor forsake you?” He is there all the time.
  6. Everything begins with a rock-solid conversion when you gave your past, present and future, those old things, to God, knowingly placing them in the sea of God’s forgetfulness – sins forgiven.    🎼🎶

“I’m not on an ego trip I’m nothing on my own
I made mistakes I often slip
Just common flesh and bones
But I’ll prove someday just why I say
I’m of a special kind
For when He was on the cross
I was on his mind.
“The look of love was on his face
Thorns were on his head
The blood was on his scarlet robe
Stained a crimson red
Though his eyes were on the crowd that day
He looked ahead in time
For when He was on the cross
I was on his mind.
“He knew me, yet he loved me
He whose glory makes the heavens shine
So unworthy of such mercy
Yet when he was on the cross
I was on his mind.”
(Gaither)

Sponge Soaked Gall

WHEN THE ROMAN SOLDIERS PUT THE SPONGE SOAKED IN WINE-VINEGAR (GALL) TO THE LIPS OF JESUS, He tasted (γευσάμενος) it and spit it out. That same Greek word is used in Hebrews 6:4, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have TASTED (γευσάμενος) the heavenly gift, … and who have fallen away, to bring them back to repentance ….” (Hebrews 6:4)
The metaphor the Lord is showing us is not meant to scare us, but to show us that nibbling around the edges of our relationship to Christ is disastrous to our faith.  JESUS said, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

(Luke 14:33) You are in the car, but Christ Jesus should be in the driver’s seat.
🎼🎶
“I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all.”
(Judson W. Van De Venter)

GALL – acrimony, animosity, arrogance, bitterness, brass, brazenness, cheek, chutzpah, conceit, confidence, crust cynicism, effrontery, guts, haughtiness, hostility, impertinence, impudence, insolence, malevolence, malice, overbearance, pomposity, presumption, rancor, sauciness, self-importance, spite, venom.

“But because you are lukewarm—neither hot, nor cold—I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:16 (ncv)

Defective Foundation

“BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND… I TRIED TO SAVE HIM!” This outburst arose out of marital frustration and due to my question, “Why do you seem to be attracted to needy men?”  I’m not a psychiatrist or the son-of-a -psychiatrist, but I’m smart enough to know that marrying someone because they have a need is no way to have a successful marriage.  A few hours later, her husband arrived for his appointment, all cheery and “on the road again.”  He had all the answers to everything.  Although overconfident, this guy made a revealing and remarkable statement when asked what attracted him to his wife.  After a short pause his said, “You know, I think I get off on the power thing.” When I asked what that meant to him, he responded, “I guess its a challenge to see if I can conquer women; all kinds and shapes,” he laughed.  My astute analysis and illustrious counseling did not keep this marriage from a bad ending.

Pulling a woman through the dirt by her hair may have been the method used by neanderthal men, but in civilized society  it “ain’t gonna work.”  When she finally recovers her senses, the conquering man will suddenly know how much power she has.  The seduction game ends badly because its a game.  And, for the woman, trying to change him or, “save” him, is a form of seduction and becomes a conqueror’s delight.  At first blush, she may seem like a weak damsel in distress, easy prey for conquering, but ….

You can’t be a simpleton by dismissively calling it a Mars and Venus conflict.  When Jesus said to “Love the Lord your God,” and added, “your neighbor as you love yourself,” you could change the word neighbor to wife or husband.  The Apostle Paul, put it this way: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and GAVE ….” To the wife he says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, AS UNTO THE LORD.”  (Ephesians 5:22 & 25)  This thing called MARRIAGE MUST BE A JOINT EFFORT!

The modern day movement to create chaos in America has bored its filthy fingers into the political system through the feminist philosophy of dividing and promoting gender based distinctions. [My opinion, of course.]  Marriage shouldn’t be based on me, myself and I, nor should it be solely on sexual attraction as our culture seems to define it.  Perhaps doing so is why we have more than a 50% divorce rate.  I know of one woman who has been married more than 8 times (eight that I know of).  It’s not unusual to meet men who have had multiple marriages, as well.  Our degradative culture has invaded the Christian community as well, to the point where divorce is brushed off like dandruff from our shoulder.

THE FOUNDATIONS HAVE BEEN FOUND TO BE DEFECTIVE.  JESUS gave the proper example when He took the towel, even though He was God Almighty, and was given all power by the Father, He knelt before his disciples and washed their feet.

When Jesus Comes

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I WAS SUFFERING UNEXPLAINABLE PAIN AND DESOLATION. No one to turn to. No one seemed to care. Alone. Isolated. Catatonic. Annihilated. Eliminated from my safe place – the church.

Thoughts came to me:
• I thought God was supposed to help me!
• Why am I fearful?
• Did I deserve this?
• I was a pastor – I’m not supposed to hurt.
• It was as though I was locked away.

I looked in the mirror and my eyes were swollen from weeping. Many times I had quoted the words of Jesus quoted by Paul in II Corinthians 12:9:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When you are totally bereft of self esteem, hurt beyond the point when words could come out of your throat, gasping for air, thinking that you would be better off dead, God speaks!

🎼🎶 “One sat alone beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see.
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.

“When Jesus comes, the tempter’s power is broken;
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away,
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.”
(Oswald J. Smith)

God Permits – Doesn’t Force

GOD MAY PERMIT HIS CHILD TO FALL DOWN AND SKIN HIS KNEE, BUT HE DOES NOT CAUSE THE ACCIDENT. So am I to believe that God is emotionally remote? Doesn’t care?  A thousand times NO!

A. We live in a fallen world – Satan is real and evil!

B. God designed us with a free will – we are not robots!

C. If God healed us, protected us from every sickness and pain, from evil in all circumstances, we would be spiritual invalids on earth. The Apostle wrote:
“There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Hebrews 5:11-12
Do you remember that lady Jesus healed? It wasn’t God who caused her sickness.  She was “held by Satan for eighteen years.”

Luke 13:16
And Paul acknowledges,  “… a painful physical problem was given to me. This problem was a messenger from Satan, sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud.”

2 Corinthians 12:7
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Hebrews 4:15-16   🎼🎶
“There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one!
No, not one!
None else could heal all our soul’s diseases,
No, not one!
No, not one!
“Jesus knows all about our struggles;
He will guide till the day is done.
There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one!
No, not one!”
(Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

GOD DIDN’T CAUSE YOUR PAIN, BUT ARE YOU GOING TO GET BITTER, OR BETTER?

The Face

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, when he was President of the U.S., was advised to nominate a recommended guy in his Cabinet. He refused. When asked why, he said, “I don’t like his face.” Those pushing for his inclusion into the cabinet were puzzled, but Lincoln continued, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”
A rough hewed man stumbled into our church one Sunday. By the look on his face, his life had been a hard one. He came back the next Sunday and brought his wife. She also had “that” look – c’mon, you know what I mean. These people had been through the mill. The church people surrounded them with love and acceptance even though they were not “of us.” A few Sundays later they came forward, bowed at the altar in prayer and gave their heart and life to Christ. Over the next few months their appearance changed. I’m not sure I can fully describe it, but there was a decided and remarkable glow on their face. That shadowed, scrubby, “don’t mess with me” face was no longer there. The glow of God transformed their face from inside out.
“When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face, but when he went into the presence of GOD to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they would see Moses’ face, its skin glowing, and then he would again put the veil on his face until he went back in to speak with GOD.”

Exodus 34:33-35   🎼🎶
“I am redeemed, all glory to The Lamb!
Saved from all sin and purified I am;
Bought by the Blood that flowed from Calvary,
For the Lord has made me free.
“Hallelujah I am free
Oh what glorious liberty
Since the blessed Lord
Has cleansed and made me whole
I am redeemed all glory to His name
He abides within my soul.”
(A. A. Jameson)