Archive for August, 2022

It has been said by many psychologists that fear in the form of unrelieved anxiety is the official emotion of our age. Gary R. Collins, in his book, “A Psychologist Looks at Life,” states that modern technology is producing such rapid and far-reaching changes in our standard of living that people are becoming anxious simply trying to keep up. In addition, the mass media has made it possible to be immediately aware of local, national, and international problems in a matter of minutes.

Fear, in the form of anxiety, however, is usually much more personal in scope and cause. It can spring from countless sources and can be either specific or what is called free-floating. Specific anxieties result from our awareness of a specific threatening situation. There are 645 phobias that have been classified. In a free-floating anxiety you do not know why you are anxious and have absolutely no idea what to do about it.

As Christians, how are we to cope with anxiety and fear? Jesus said that without faith, life collapses but that with faith we can move mountains. He often said things like, “Fear not, only believe.” We need to recognize that anxiety and/or fear in its right place is a constructive thing. Sometimes it is a protective response to danger that is real.

Several years ago, newspapers carried the story of a man living near the coast in South Carolina who came home from work, parked his car under a tree and entered his home. Having left his car windows down, during the night a large moccasin snake crawled into his car and went under the front seat. The next morning the man got in his car, cranked up and had traveled down the road a few miles when he felt pressure on his lap. Glancing down, he saw the large moccasin crawling slowly across his lap toward the driver’s side window.

Realizing the window was partially open, and not knowing what else to do, he kept driving. The snake crawled up toward the window. When his head reached outside the window, he quickly rolled it up, pinning the snake. With his heart beating rapidly, he pulled over, stopped, got out and killed the snake. It is a true story! I submit to you that if he didn’t have a serious level of anxiety, something was seriously wrong with him.

He had a legitimate reason to be extremely anxious. On the other hand, neurotic anxiety is abnormal because it involves intense feelings of discomfort even when danger is mild or nonexistent. There are immediate negative physical responses to this kind of anxiety: elevated blood pressure, the slowing of the digestive process, changes in the chemical composition of the blood, stomach ulcers, headaches, etc.

People deal with anxieties and fears in different ways. Some find a certain amount of relief in emotionalizing their problems by crying. Others forget their anxiety temporarily by gorging themselves with food, by getting drunk or by taking drugs. But the Christian has a different prescription. The only Physician who can heal us of all our anxieties permanently keeps office in the New Testament. “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline”(2 Timothy 1:7).

The first factor, then, in overcoming morbid fear and anxiety is “power” – the power of faith. One method is to write out a list of the times God has provided in the past. When anxiety attacks you, meditate on that list and put your faith in the One who has and will continue to provide all that you need for living a godly life.

The second factor in defeating unhealthy fear and anxiety is “love.” Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). When serving others, you will find that anxious thoughts leave. Loving others brings the double benefits of being the hands and feet of Christ AND giving you respite from anxious thoughts.

The third factor in defeating unhealthy anxieties and fear is “self-discipline.” Fear and anxiety tend to dominate the lives of those who have little or no self-discipline of their thoughts. Take your thoughts “captive to Christ” and refuse to give Satan a foothold in your mind. Philippians 8 admonishes believers to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…” Again, make a list of these things for times when anxiety threatens to overcome.

Brothers and sisters, practice these three suggestions faithfully and find the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Jesus promises “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). He DIED so that you can have peace; peace is your birthright as a new creation in Christ!


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Imagine for a moment that you are on a major television quiz show, and you are on a winning streak. You have answered every question correctly thus far. There is only one question left. If you answer it correctly you will win more prizes and money than you ever dreamed possible.

When the question is asked, you answer it correctly. You suddenly realize what it means! Your heart begins to beat rapidly. But imagine at this point that the game show host says, “We have one more question for you.” Another question? You are shocked! And it shows on your face!

The quiz show host then says, “You’ve answered all the other questions correctly, but there is just this one question left: “You can have all these prizes – the money, the new car, the boat, the clothes, and the month-long Hawaiian vacation, a million dollars in the bank – or your integrity. Which do you choose?”

Suddenly there is silence! Dead silence! You may be thinking that you would say to the quiz show host, “I answered the questions correctly. Why can’t I have prizes and still keep my integrity?” Aren’t you glad that you were only asked to imagine this scenario? Still, if you had to choose, what would your decision be? Would you choose the prizes? Or would you choose to keep your integrity?

If such a choice were actually presented to you, other factors would likely have an impact on the decision you make. For example, you may be regularly having some month left over at the end of your money. Mortgage payments seem to come every other week, not just monthly. House and car insurance rates have increased, the children have many needs, and the list goes on and on. We all have need for money. Much of it is justified. It is easy to place too high a value on wealth in trying to climb the ladder.

Ask yourself this question: “Will having money, especially lots of it, bring me any closer to God? Will it make me blind to my neighbor’s needs? What impact will it have on my relationships with others? Will the fact that I have lots of money become so important that I lose sight of the things money cannot buy?”

It is easy to become enamored with our own ability when we are financially comfortable. It is easy to think what we have is ours and forget that it really belongs to God. It is not wrong to have money – even lots of it. God nowhere condemns wealth. Some very wealthy Christians give 50% or more of their wealth to needy causes in order to glorify God and meet human needs. They have discovered that you can own lots of wealth without losing your integrity. It is when you choose wealth over integrity that problems develop.

The book of Proverbs offers some very wise words in this regard:

            “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1 NIV). You don’t have to sacrifice your good name in order to own great riches.

            “Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse” (Proverbs 28:6 NIV; and 19:1 NIV).

            “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Proverbs 22:1 NIV).

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A husband and wife who were having problems in their marriage came to their minister for counseling. The pastor opened the session with prayer, then asked the husband: “What do you believe to be the major problem in your marriage?”

The husband replied, “She says I don’t ever listen to her!” He paused for a few seconds and continued: “At least I think that is what she said.” Without realizing it, he had made it very clear what their primary problem was. They were not communicating.

The single most important ingredient in a long-term marriage is the ability of both partners to communicate. Communication is as important to a marriage as water is to a plant that grows in the desert. It is as important as air to your body. When you stop breathing, you stop living.

Communication is not out-yelling your wife. It is not out-talking your husband. Nor is it out-screaming your children. It is a willing exchange of feelings or information. It takes two people to communicate: one sending, the other receiving. Obviously in any marriage when either the wife or husband is sending and not receiving, communication will be impossible. What began as holy wedlock can easily end in unholy deadlock.

When I was a freshman at Mercer University in 1948, I went into the adjoining dormitory room to visit a friend. He had his radio on and was listening to music. Suddenly the music stopped, and my friend said, “The radio station has stopped sending.” He moved the radio dial across from one end to the other, and not a single sound came out. He replied (jokingly of course), “All of the stations have stopped sending.” All of the stations were still broadcasting, but his radio had stopped receiving. Communication involves both sending and receiving, whether it involves radio broadcasts, a marriage, or any other relationship.

Deep feelings in a marriage must be expressed openly or trouble begins to escalate rapidly. To keep feelings inside and not express them would be like trying to keep a beach ball under water. The instant the person trying to accomplish that feat loses his or her balance the ball will pop out of the water and up into the air. Emotions kept inside will ultimately explode to the surface in the same way.

A marriage begins with the merger of two people who have different thoughts and needs. The Bible defines marriage as two people becoming “one flesh.” This is a spiritual concept, not a physical one. A successful marriage will require much thought and effort. Many adjustments have to be made, and lots of couples do not seem to realize that. But when God is allowed to guide meaningful communication, marriage becomes a unique, enjoyable, and holy adventure.

In marriage counseling sessions I have heard husbands and wives say, “We just grew apart.” And why did this happen? The trouble was not that their problems were insurmountable. They stopped communicating. Notice that I did not say, “They stopped talking.” I said, “They stopped communicating.” Communication between husband and wife involves dialogue, not just a monologue. A dialogue includes both sharing and listening. There are different levels of communication in a marriage:

LEVEL ONE: On this level, a couple talks in pretense and sham. Their masks stay on. Words are exchanged, but only at a shallow level. Genuine needs and feelings are not shared. Even when they are, it is possible they will not be accepted or understood because they are not genuinely listening to each other.

LEVEL TWO: On this level some thoughts and feelings are expressed honestly, but both husband and wife keep their guard up. Words may promise some hope that things will be better, but both watch each other’s moves carefully. The level of trust has not yet been developed. More communication is needed.

LEVEL THREE: On this level honest feelings are openly expressed: “This is what I love, what I fear, and what I really need.” Communication must be prioritized on this level for a marriage to survive. There is no fear of a blow up or pouting or resentment because of a petty disagreement. Husbands and wives who demand that their partner in life agree with them in all things will never achieve this level.

LEVEL FOUR: Communication on this level is like two violins that are playing a beautiful concerto in perfect harmony. The Bible describes it this way, “If two of you agree.” The word “agree” in Greek implies a symphony. A marriage that functions daily on this level will become what God intended when He said, “The two shall become one” (Mark 10:8).

If your communication level isn’t where you want it to be, consult your pastor or a reputable Christian counselor. It’s more painful to live unheard than to develop, or even just tweak, better communication with the one you’ve chosen to love!

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