Originally posted on Timothy J. Hammons:

It seems that we have “another” movement afoot in Christian circles again. This time it is the If:Gathering, which is a woman’s conference led by Jenny Allen and Jen Hatmaker. The website even has Ann Voskamp listed among the leadership. If you read my post on Voskamp you would know why I have problems with this conference before we go any further into the details. But on the front end, I will say that this movement is just another misguided movement like so many others foisted upon the church in the past 30 years.

The emphasis of IF seems to be on women gathering and praying and then unleashing all those other women in our culture who are in bondage. Here is their mission statement:

WE EXIST TO GATHER, EQUIP AND UNLEASH THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN TO LIVE OUT THEIR PURPOSE.

Sounds good on the surface, but from what…

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Dread

Does the word dread ever enter your mind or conversation?  It does mine. Sometimes when I’m tired I dread having to go to the store for groceries, or I dread the housework facing me that day, or I dread an appointment; especially the dentist or doctor.  Sometimes I even dread having to get up and start my day. I thought to myself, “Why do I dread things?”  “What is dread anyway?”  So, I looked it up in the dictionary and here is what I found: Dread: “To be in terror of; fear greatly.  Fearful anticipation.”

Wait a minute!  Fearful anticipation!  What?  I thought fear was out of my life.  I didn’t know that dreading something was being fearful.  So, is it sinful to dread things?  I don’t want to sin against God!

I looked up “fear.”  Here are some synonyms for fear:  anxiety, dread, panic, trepidation, worry, stress.  Oh no!  I’m not liking what I’m reading! What does the Bible say about anxiety?

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Mat 6:25-34 MKJV Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (26) Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are? (27) Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? (28) And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, (29) but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (30) Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths? (31) Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? (32) For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. (33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. (34) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it. (Emphasis mine)

In these verses I count the phrase “do not be anxious,” three times.  Just think about it, these words came out of the lips of Jesus himself!  Amazing!  And, when He says something we can take it to the bank.  This is a command!  Do not be anxious!  There is no other way to look at this than anxiety (and all those other terms we use, like dread, and fear) is  sin.  In these verses Jesus Christ has told us not to be anxious about anything:  our life, our immediate needs, and our future.  If I dread things then I am also being anxious, and anxiety is definitely sin.  I need to confess to God that I have sinned and repent of it.  Repent means to turn away from.  I need to turn away from any dreadful thoughts and turn them over to God.

Doubt

Doubt and dread are first cousins. What is doubt?  Doubt is to be unsure, or distrust, or something uncertainexodus6_30 or unsettled.  Yes, when we are uncertain and unsettled in our minds about something than that thing becomes bigger than us and we begin to dread it.  Our minds go over the situation time and again, and sometimes we blow it out of proportion. We doubt that we can do the thing that lies before us, or we feel it will make us feel uncomfortable, and we dread it more and more until we are paralyzed.

Jas 1:6 MKJV But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. (Emphasis mine)

Picture the waves of the sea crashing upon the seashore.  The wind drives the waves against the shore and then back out to sea again to be driven in again.  We are like a tiny boat on that sea and when doubt enters our minds we are tossed all about not being able to make decisions or function.  We need an anchor.  The Bible is our anchor and we can find our answers there.  Don’t be tossed about by everything you hear or think.  The mind is the devil’s playground, and dread and doubt can keep us from doing the work God has called us to. Satan is happy when we are full of worry and stress.  Are you experiencing this?  Is there something you know God wants you to do but you are full of dread when you think of doing it?  Cheer up!  There is an answer.2 Timothy 1;7

Discipline

So, what is the antidote for dread and doubt?  It is another word that starts with “d.”  It’s discipline. According to the dictionary discipline is, “training that develops self-control.”  That’s it!  We need to discipline or train our minds in order to be in control of our thoughts.  “How do we do that?” you may ask. Let’s look to our anchor the Bible for the way out of the storm. Do you know that God loves us so much that He told us what to even think about? It’s true!

Php 4:8 NASB Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Emphasis mine)

It’s right there in the Bible.  We have to discipline our thought life.  Think about what you think about! Examine your thoughts according to Philippians 4:8.  Are you thinking rightly? Or, are your thoughts anxious?  If you catch yourself thinking about something you truly dread, or perhaps a doctor’s report you are about to receive, then check out your thoughts.  Are you blowing them out of proportion? Are they true?  Or, are you jumping ahead to the “what ifs,” or “what might be.” These words are also a picture of Jesus.  He is all of these things.  Set you mind on things above.

Col 3:2 NASB Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Our minds can be renewed.  As we study, read the Word and pray God will renew our minds and it will change us.  We don’t have to be the way we used to be.  We don’t have to think all those awful thoughts that drag us down.

Rom 12:2 MKJV And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

Deliverance

Deliverance is to “set free.”  I like those words.  If I can just get my mind to be rid of any fearful, dreadful, anxious thoughts, than I would not feel stressed and I’d be free!psalm3_8

2Co 10:5 MKJV pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; (Emphasis mine)

Let’s not be captives of our thoughts!  Let’s be free! Who is in charge?  You or your mind? Take control and set yourself free.  God says in the above verse that we can take captive every thought.  If He says we can than we can!  With God’s help, prayer and keeping in the Word we can be disciplined and overcome dread and doubt.

How do we do this?  Here’s how.

Php 4:6 MKJV Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Emphasis mine)

Checking your thoughts and then prayer.  Ask God for help, and be thankful.  Tell Him things that you are thankful for.  He is waiting.  He is right there all the time ready to help us if we will only call on Him.

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If you change what you think about do you know what will happen?

Php 4:7 MKJV And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that wonderful?  We can have a peace which we cannot even describe.  I know this is possible because I’ve had this peace.  I still have to be careful every day and monitor my thoughts according to Philippians 4:8.  I can’t let them get away from me.  It is very easy to fall back into the bad thought habits that were once an everyday part of me.  I must be on guard.

In summary we see:

Dread: It keeps us from doing God’s will in our lives.

Doubt: When we doubt we are not trusting.  It is Satan’s tool to trip us up.

Discipline: Be aware. We need to break old bad thinking habits and acquire new ones according to the Word.

Deliverance: Depend on God to set us free.

If you have trouble in this area I would suggest you take a 3×5 card and write out Philippians 4:8. Put it where it is easy for you to see or get too.  You could place it on your desk, in your purse, on your visor in the car; wherever it is handy for you. It would also be a great scripture verse to memorize so you wouldn’t have to depend on finding your card.  Also memorize Philippians 4:6-7

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Why Tai Chi is Not For Me

Some time ago I wrote a post called “Should Christian’s do Tai Chi?”  In that post I gave several links to  sites that I researched.   They are informative and will tell you a lot about what Tai Chi is and it’s dangers.

What is Chi?

“Chi is believed to be the binding life force in the universe, existing both externally and internally, MB900324192moving through invisible channels in the body called meridians. Taoism teaches that strengthening and reinforcing one’s inner chi will bring good health and long life as well as spiritual benefits. Certain breathing techniques, meditations, and bodily movements are taught to cultivate and enhance the chi. This belief is the basis of Tai Chi. There is no supreme God or Creator in Taoism; all originated from the Tao, which is an impersonal principle or source of creation.” – source Gotquestions.org

So, they don’t believe in One God as Christians do.  We believe that God created the universe and everything in it.  We do not believe we can manipulate God or his creation.  I don’t believe in the chi energy force and that it needs to be balanced in your body in order for us to be healthy.  You see, I am a born-again believer and I have the Holy Spirit living in me. He is my power.

Today there are many groups especially for the older population that are teaching Tai Chi for better balance.  As we get older many people do have problems with balance and walking, and some have found that this helps.  But, if this is a religion should we actually participate in it if we are Christians?  I have an idea. Why not just do your own exercise program?  There are many really good stretching and movement exercises that one can do without practicing Eastern Religions.  Yes, Tai Chi is a belief system or religion.

Participation in a False Religion

If you were to go to a church and you were not a Christian and you participated in the Lord’s Supper, or  as some call it Communion, then you are practicing that religion whether you know it or not.  If you were not Catholic, but were to attend their church and you bow down to the statue of Mary, you are practicing that religion.  You are actively joining in with the others.  So, if you were to join a Tai Chi class where they are doing their movements according to that religion you are actually unknowingly practicing that religion.  God does not want us to do that!

tai chiRemember, according to the Bible when the people came out of Egypt and settled into other lands God told them not to practice those pagan religions?  But, guess what?  They rebelled against God and did it anyway. They thought it was harmless.  God judged them eventually for that.

Jdg 2:19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.

2Ch 24:18 They abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols; so wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt.

Do you realize that God disciplines His children? When we step out of line if we do not repent He may allow something to come into our lives to wake us up.   Just as a parent punishes their child for disobedience; God loves us so much that he does the same.

Heb 12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Rev 3:19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

Hidden Dangers

There are hidden danger in participating in Tai Chi classes.  The possibility that one would open themselves up to demon influence is real.  When a person empties their mind and meditates in that way they are open to the evil spiritual world.  Doing Tai Chi could be an avenue into the occult for some people especially if they are not Christians.  There is a dark side.  God doesn’t want us to have anything to do with the evil spirit world.

“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.
(Deu 18:9-12)

An Example to Unbelievers and New Christians

More importantly, what about the example I am setting for others?  That is the question that comes to my mind.  I am an ambassador for Jesus Christ.  I try to represent Him in all that I do.  There may be an unbeliever or new Christian who doesn’t understand these things, and if they see me doing Tai Chi they might say, “Hey, Bonnie is doing Tai Chi and she is a Christian, so it must be okay if I do it.” That person may end up in big trouble because of my actions.  I take that seriously!  In fact, they might not take the class I’m taking, but another one where the leader goes deeper into the practice, and they might be lead down the wrong road.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
(1Co 10:23-24)

We need to be careful what we do in public that might cause a weaker brother to fall.

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
(1Co 8:9-13) (Emphasis mine)

Those are serious words and I do take them to heart that is why I will not participate in Tai Chi in any form.

The Christmas Cookie Man

CookieMan

THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE MAN
by Bonnie Lord

Just before Christmas, Mom baked a cookie man
She left him to cool on the new cookie pan.
Then, she went out to buy Billy a toy,
Because he had been a very good boy.

Jake, the dog, woke from his nap.
Then his nose twitched with a snap.
“Something smells good,
Like cookies should.”

Jake sniffed, and found the cookie man.
He laid right there on the cookie pan.
Jake nudged the pan, and it crashed to the floor.
Up jumped cookie man and slipped out the door.
Then a little voice said in his head.
“Run! Run! Cookie man!”

Cookie man ran all around.
His feet barely touched the ground.
Finally, after a slip and a fall,
He found himself right next to the mall.

Tired he slumped down on the curb.
A boy picked him up and he heard.
“Which shall I eat?
His head or his feet?”
Then a little voice said in his head.
“Run! Run! Cookie man.”

Cookie man breathed in a lot of air.
He let it all out with more to spare.
It let him slip from the little boy’s hand,
And he again heard, “Run! Run! Cookie man!”

In the mall kids were trimming a tree.
Cookie man walked on over to see.
A girl reached down and picked him up.
“I’ll put this cookie man near the top!”

She lifted him up, oh so high,
And cookie man let out a deep sigh.
Then, the little voice said.
“Safe at last Cookie man!”

Cookie man rests in the tree in the mall,
Where he can be seen by one and by all.
Kids walk by with their faces so pink,
And cookie man grins and gives them a wink.

 

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I want to let you know that I’ve started an online Bible study for the ladies who read my blog.  We are studying Philippians and our teacher is Susan Heck.  She is an excellent Bible teacher and counselor, and comes highly recommended.  You will love how she digs deep into the scriptures and brings out so many truths that I would overlook.  I try to post a new lesson every week.  The lessons and discussion area are protected and you will need a password to get into them.  That way we can keep what we say private and just between the members of the group.  If you are interested you can click on the link below to see what it is all about.  Hope to see you there!

Dig Deeper Bible Study

 

 

Ephesians 3:16-17  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...

Paul, the Apostle, wrote this  prayer for the believers at Ephesus, and for us today also.  When we become Christians we are  new creations.  We are born again.  Our old dead self  (we were dead in  sin) is raised to new life.   The Holy Spirit comes and lives within us.   It is truly a miracle work of God.                                               Ephesians 3;17a

We are studying Ephesians 3 in church, and I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot this week.  What was very interesting to me, as our pastor unpacked this verse, was the word “dwell.”   In the Greek this word means settled down in you, or comfortable there, or at home in you. It also indicates a permanent residence. Is Christ at home in you?  Is He comfortable, or do we make Him feel uneasy and unwelcome?  Those are good questions, so I’ve been pondering what would make Christ NOT feel at home in me.  The short answer:  sin.

Even though I’ve been born-again and am now a new creation, I still live with the old flesh. I can still sin. And as the Bible tells us the heart is very deceitful. I might think I’m a pretty good person as I haven’t committed adultery, and I’ve never murdered anyone. But, in reality, I actually sin every day. I think we sin mostly in our minds and attitudes.  Sin is born in the mind. Temptations surround us all day long in this world.  We hear gossip and even partake in it. We watch things on television that corrupt our minds.  We need to be careful of what we watch and listen to.

Jerry Bridges wrote an excellent book for Christians called, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate.  Some of the sins he tackles are:  Ungodliness, anxiety and frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience and irritability, anger, judgmentalism, envy, jealousy, sins of the tongue, worldliness.  That is quite is list isn’t it?  I see myself  there do you?  I highly recommend this book.  It will help you see things that are sinful that you might not have never thought of before.

So, what happens when a Christian sins?  Well, we don’t lose our salvation, but Christ does not feel at home in us that is for sure.  I wonder how many times a day I make him feel unwelcome.  It makes me sad to think that I offend Christ in me.  When I realize it I do pray and ask forgiveness.  In order to have victory in our lives we must keep that connection with Jesus open.

When I know I’m having company I work hard to clean up my house and have everything in order.  Then, when they are with me I try very hard to make them feel welcome.  I entertain them and don’t do or say things that might upset them.  But,  just think, the God of all creation, the King of Kings, comes and resides within us. He doesn’t just come for a visit, but he sets up a permanent residence in us.  What an awesome thought!

Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

I need to work on making our wonderful, blessed, Savior at home.  We are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Is my body fit for a King?  I think it needs cleaning up on a daily basis in order for the King to feel at home.  What about you?

Maybe that is why we don’t feel like we are living the victorious Christian life. Maybe there are things blocking us from having an intimate relationship with Christ.  We lose our power when we grieve the Holy Spirit.

You may be asking:  “This all sounds great Bonnie, but what can I do to make Jesus welcome in me?”

You can start by taking inventory.  First think about what you think about. Sounds kind of odd right?  Take a look at Philippians 4:8 and you will see that God has already told us how we should think.

Php 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Check yourself this week and determine what you are thinking about.  Are they things that this scripture tells us we should be thinking about, or is your mind full of other things.  You might be spending a lot of time with thoughts about someone you are angry with rehearsing over and over what you would like to tell that person if you got a chance.  Or, you might be letting your mind wander into impure thoughts.  Maybe you watched something on television that started your mind in that direction and now you are dwelling on them.  There are so many things we think about that we shouldn’t really.  They are things that tear us down and don’t build us up in the Lord in any way.  When we struggle with our thought life and entertain thoughts that we shouldn’t sooner or later we give birth to sin.  Our Precious Lord cannot feel at home in these kinds of situations.  I don’t think we realize how much of an effect we have on Christ in us.

Other ways we hinder God’s power in us include:  not yielding to Him, not studying the Word on a daily basis, and neglecting prayer,

Someone has said:

 “Some of us only have visits with our Lord that are short and far between.  We drive Him away.  How? Our hearts are foul with sin.”

Oh Lord, please help me to understand the deep things Paul is trying to teach me, and help me to have a clean heart, so that Christ can dwell in me and be comfortable.  Help me not to offend Him.   In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Why do we Suffer?

How do you suffer?  Perhaps you suffer because you have some form of physical illness.  Or, you may suffer because you have anxiety, and panic attacks keep you from doing what you’d like to do.  There are many ways we suffer, but have you every thought about why we suffer.  Do you realize that Christians suffer and that we will keep on suffering until we reach heaven?  That is the truth of the matter.

There are many reasons  we suffer, but as believers we might wonder why God allows it.  Doesn’t He love us?  I believe that many people who come to Christ think they will get out of all the hardships of life.  They think everything will be peachy if they raise their hand in a service and say, “I invite Jesus into my heart.”  Sometimes that is what they are led to believe by the pastor.  Yes, get Jesus and live your best life now!  Things will be great!

I’ve sat in churches like that and I can remember the pastor leading us.  He would say something like this:

“There may be someone out there right now who is hurting.  They might be having trouble in their marriage.  There is someone who is physically ill today but they are here anyway.   Do you want to be well?  God will heal you.  There is someone who needs financial assistance.  They need money for a bill they can’t pay.  Receive Jesus right now and he will take care of all of your needs.  If you’ve never invited Jesus Christ into your heart do so now and feel His comfort.  With every head bowed and eyes closed raise your hand so that I can pray for you.  Yes, I see that one.  There is another, and yes, I see you too.”

On it goes till the pastor is satisfied that enough people have given their lives to Christ. This is sad because that is not how a person becomes a Christian and it gives them false hope.  They think they have just received Christ and their lives will be so much better from then on.   Sorry folks, but that is not the way it works.   They are not taught the truths of the Bible.  They go back out into the world and try to live right, but it doesn’t seem to work.  That is because they are not truly saved, and they don’t have the power of the Holy Sprit working in them.  They think they are  saved, but they are deceived.   These people need to hear the true gospel message, repent of their sins, and get saved.

If you are a true Christian you will still suffer.  How do I know this?  Because the Bible tells us so.  Take a look at Philippians 1:29-30 with me:

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.  (emphasis mine.)

Yes, you saw right.  We will suffer for His sake.  It says that this has been granted to us on behalf of Christ.  That would indicate that it is Christ’s will for us to suffer and that we should think of this as a privilege.    Have you ever thought of suffering for Christ as a privilege?  I hadn’t.

Now let’s look at I Peter 5:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  (emphasis mine.)

Again we see that the Bible says we are going to suffer, and the purpose of it is to perfect us.

Here is another interesting scripture on suffering:  2 Timothy 3:12

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (emphasis mine.)

The apostles all suffered persecution and were killed in many horrible ways.  We too will suffer persecution if we live for Christ.  In this country, at this time, it isn’t that bad.  People may shun us and not like us if we stand for Christ.  In fact, in some families if a person becomes a believer their family might turn against them.  Sometimes, as in my case, I lost many of my old friends as they did not understand me anymore and we didn’t have much in common anymore.  You might suffer persecution for Christ’s sake in the work place.  But, in some countries, even today, people are being persecuted for Christ to the extent that they are killed.  It is illegal in some countries to become a Christians and if one does they are thrown out of their family and can be killed for being a Christian.  They can also be killed for attempting to spread the gospel.  That is true persecution for Christ’s sake.

So, again, why do we suffer?  Well, for one thing to identify with Christ and what He has done for us, and for standing up for the gospel.  But, there are other reasons also.

Have you ever noticed Romans 8:28-29?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God forknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Emphasis mine.)

When things are going wrong people are quick to quote Romans 8:28, but I seldom hear them add verse 29.  Yes, all things do work out for good for Christians, but the reason is found in verse 29, and that is so that we might be conformed to the likeness of Christ.  In other words, some of our problems and suffering are allowed to change us.  We come to Christ with many rough edges that need to be smoothed off and our loving heavenly Father has to shave them off.  Little by little we change as we go through the hardships that come our way.

Can you identify with this?  I can.  I suffered tremendously from panic attacks and agoraphobia for 20 years.  I found Christ during that time and believe me I had many rough edges that needed smoothing.  I continued to suffer, but I also turned to Christ for the answers.  I studied my Bible daily.  I learned many precious promises and I learned how to claim them in my own life.  I learned how to apply my faith to my problems.  I grew in Christ.  Eventually, I no longer had panic attacks. I got my life back and it was so much better than before.  God was good to me!  The biggest thing I learned was not to depend on myself or others, but totally depend on Jesus Christ for everything.  He has sustained me to this day!  He will do the same for you if you turn to Him.

I will close with this quote from Elisabeth Elliot in her book,  A Path Through Suffering.  (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1990), 197-198

We suffer that we may learn who God is; that we may learn to trust and obey; it is required of soldiers; it is the condition of discipleship; to prune us, shape us to Christ’s image; to qualify us for the kingdom, to strengthen our faith; refine and test us, grow us; produce endurance; character, hope, joy, generosity; so that Christ’s power can be manifested in us; we suffer for the sake of God’s people; that we may share in His sufferings, His glory, and identify with Him in the crucifixion.

Here is a wonderful video by Joni Eareckson Tada that you will enjoy.  It really brings suffering home.

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