Just over three years ago, my life changed dramatically. Up until that time, I was unaware that stress and anxiety were boiling inside of me. I was one of “those guys” that didn’t believe I could be affected by anxiety. I thought I was too tough or strong for something like anxiety. I never saw it coming; truth is, when it did come, I didn’t believe it. My wife saw it, but neither of us would have guessed the magnitude of what life can become when anxiety takes over.
Looking back, I can see 3 things that I did right from the beginning that were essential for healing:
- I started to journal everyday.
- I read and studied the Bible every day.
- I prayed all the time, and did not hold back my feelings or thoughts from God.
The stress or anxiety or fear – whatever you want to call it was unbearable and continuous. It completely debilitated me. I could not sleep, I could not work, I could not eat.
The special veil has been lifted…you know the one where there is an idealistic side of life where in general you are safe and life is good. Sure, bad things happen, but they are isolated, and for the most part, are for others.
To be clear, I know I’m not alone. Many experience this and those that do come to this point through pain and suffering.
A refiner’s fire.
About 10 days ago, the Lord blessed us with my wife being pregnant. Oh the emotion that went through our hearts and bodies! Both of us in our 40’s, and me pushing 50, really creates many questions for my wife and I…most go unanswered.
I stumbled hard over the last two months. Consider this my confession.
Ever burn with anger and frustration at the injustice of something or someone? It’s a feeling that I have become very familiar with over the last 8 weeks or so. I had gotten to the point of being so frustrated that the situation had consumed a large portion of my thought life. Planning what I would do, how I could be heard, how I could make it right.
Truth is, I have the ability to think about things and carry on entire conversations (arguments) in my mind – if this, then that. Like a chess players thinks 10-14 moves ahead. I’m sure that you have this ability too.
Called home April, 2014
A dear brother and friend in Christ was just called home. I heard the news this morning as I was preparing to head to church. Matt was a good young man; he was 40 when he passed. What made him good? That’s just my opinion, my rating system. He gave more than he took.
Matt was the leader of our small group. He was responsible for leading 8 men and himself. Leading a small group is akin to saying his job was to be “Christ like” to us and set an example. Matt gave all that he had to our group. He was and is an excellent example of a small group leader.
Each one of us has a day that we are going to be called home – to heaven or to hell (Ecclesiastes 3:2). That’s true whether you believe it or not. Everyone has to reconcile how they got here? How were they born? How did humanity start? Even for the most ardent atheist you still have to explain how what you believe ever came from nothing.
People have always been interested in angels. I can think of three television series with the/a main character being an angel. Many misconceptions about angels are spread through the entertainment industry. I’m not trying to slam them for this because they are in the entertainment business. And entertainment does not have to be fact. We all know this but it seems without knowledge of reality, our entertainment becomes our view of reality.
In movies and TV, angels are sometimes portrayed as former humans, sent back to earth to do good deeds to, ”Earn their wings.” Images of angels with wings or halos or harps are common, and their personalities are very human, sometimes with dispositions that exhibit emotional thinking, uncertainty and tempt able weakness. Good stuff for entertainment but not for anything more than that.
“The tragedy of disbelieving in God is not that a person ends up believing in nothing, alas it is much worse, a person may end up believing in anything.”
For some reason, New Year’s Day has become a time for making resolutions. That is, making a decision to change something in our life for the better. So, this week many of us have started to do something we have been putting off, or are trying to stop doing what we wish we did not do. For a while, gyms will be busier and not as many cigarettes will be smoked and fewer calories will be consumed and many other good things. New Year’s resolutions are always good for us. Well, at least I never have heard of anyone resolving to start a bad habit. But I’ve seen that most resolutions are only for a while.
Why is doing what is good for us so hard and doing what’s bad come naturally? Jesus told us the answer. He taught us that, “The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.” The specific instance was the inability for the twelve, minus Judas, to stay awake and pray. Even though Jesus had just asked them to watch and pray, “Lest they fall into temptation”, they still fell asleep. [Mat. 26:36-45]. The bible often points out that the urges of the physical body, if followed, will lead us to failure.
It happened again; the fallout from hidden sin caught up to another friend. This time a wife lost her husband to a 20 year jail sentence. I’ve broken bread with these people across the globe in places like Oxford, England and Mexico. We have prayed and worshiped together. We shared life together. My wife, Bonnie, and I love this couple. Yet during this whole time, there was hidden sin.
Sin is destructive, and when it’s hidden it can grow and consume us. Sin destroys lives and relationships. It attaches to our desires and leads us to death (James 1:15).
Whatever the sin, there is a cost. It costs you and those around you. David’s sin eventually (a year later) cost him his wives and children. It also took the lives of over 70,000 men that directly paid the price with their lives (2 Samuel 12:11-14, 2 Samuel 13:28, 2 Samuel 24:15)
Our nation will soon be commemorating the birth of our savior Jesus. I think that whenever our country wants to celebrate something good it is a good thing. And the birth of Jesus is a very good thing. So great is the fact of His birth that it is the central point in time! We count years from His birth, time being reckoned either before or after Christ’s birth. Ironically, the birth of Jesus probably occurred about 3 B.C. according to most scholars.
Mathew, Luke and John all write about the events surrounding the Messiah’s birth but each account preserves different information for us. John’s record is short and sublime, focusing on the amazing fact that God entered the world, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us….full of grace and truth.” Mathew and Luke give us more of the human interest information that we all can relate to because they are very human circumstances indeed. Because both of these writers record different facts, there is a need to harmonize them into chronological order.
Have you ever gotten lost while driving to a place that you have never been to before? Prior to car GPS systems this was a common thing, especially when trying to find someone’s house. I remember years ago when trying to get to a customer’s house was a hard thing to do. And when I would stop to ask for directions, often I would be told, confidently, exactly how to get there. But it turned out that the person was wrong, and so I’d ask someone else. And they would be wrong too! Grrrrr-
This scenario happens all too frequently when trying to get to heaven. Everyone is lost, (Rom. 3:23) and must try to find the way there. Sadly, a lot of people do not care or will not try, but many of us will ask for directions. And there are many people who will confidently tell you exactly how to get there. The scary thing is that most of the directions you will get are wrong and will take you someplace you don’t want to go. Some of us realize that the advice we received was not correct and that we are still lost. Unfortunately, most people won’t discover that they are on the wrong road till it’s too late and they are forever lost!