Archive for the ‘Agoraphobia’ Category

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We’ve looked at several things that Paul and Kim, the people in our examples had to understand to conquer fear and panic.  Remember that Paul was afraid to cross bridges and Kim was afraid to drive or ride in cars. We started to look at some important facts that Paul needed to understand and consider in order to conquer these problems.  They will help all of us.

1.  His fear was real.
2.  His fear was wrong and sinful.
3.  His fear was not of bridges; it was a fear that had become associated with bridges.
4.  Paul’s real fear was of the experiences.  (The cause of fear)
5.  Here is the key to becoming an overcomer.
6. There is not some mysterious thing going on.

Let’s move on to some other matters to consider:

7. “The devil made me do it.”

Many people think and have been taught that the devil gives us these fearful thoughts. So, we speak to the devil and rebuke him and tell him something like this:  “Devil, (or evil spirit, or spirit of fear,) I command you in the Name of Jesus to get away from me and leave me alone, you have no right over me as I am a Christian.  In the Name of Jesus, depart from me and go to where God sends you.” 

I’ve done this myself, and it seemed to me that it worked for the time being.  But those unwanted fearful thoughts did keep coming back and I’d have to rebuke the devil again. It was a never-ending battle.  When I wrote Panic Buster: Learn to Conquer Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia, I included something like that.  Now, I know that was an error.  At the time I thought it was good teaching, and even had support from a pastor about it, but since then I’ve learned differently.

I can not find anywhere in the Bible where it tells us to “rebuke” the devil.  It does tell us in James to “resist” the devil.  These are two different things.

James 4:7 NASB   Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

I do believe the devil can give us unwanted thoughts.  But, it is up to us to not entertain them.  We resist them and thereby resist the devil.  I believe blaming the devil for everything is overblown today.  It can get so we see the devil behind every bush.  I’m sure he has more important things to do then pick on me all the time.  He is not all powerful like God.  He cannot be everywhere at once like God, and he does not know everything like God.  So, he must be busy working on bigger things than myself.  Yes, he does have hordes of demons working for him and he can send them to pester us.  But, we know that God is greater then any of them and He is with us all the time to protect us.  So, we need not let them bother us any more. 

You will see by the scripture below that even Michael the archangel did not rail against the devil but turned him over to the Lord to rebuke.

Jude 1:8-9 NABS Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Note from John MacArthur Study Bible: “railing judgment: Rather than personally cursing such a powerful angel as Satan, Michael deferred to the ultimate, sovereign power of God following the example of the Angel of the Lord in Zec 3:2.  This is the supreme illustration of how Christians are to deal with Satan and demons.  Believers are not to address them, but rather to seek the Lord’s intervening power against them.”

We can pray to God and ask Him to rebuke the devil for us.  We can also ask God to help us control our thoughts and get them where they should be.

It is easy to blame someone or something else for our anxious thoughts.  When we say, “the devil made me do it,” we are skirting the real problem.  We need to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.  Actually, this may be a trap by the devil.  If we focus on him and not the real problem then we will not win in the end.  He will continue to have us in his grip of fear.

Eve blamed the devil in the Garden of Eden. 

Genesis 3:13 NASB Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

But, she was the one that made the decision to sin.  The responsibility fell on her and then God cursed us in allowing her sin to be carried down to each of us.

So, let’s not be like Eve and blame the enemy.  Let’s take a closer look at how we think.  I believe that most panic attacks can be stopped if we learn how to think correctly.  It is so important to realize our thoughts can control us and even effect us physically.  I pray you are seeing that.

Blessings,
Bonnie

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Up to this point we have seen that Paul, in our example of someone who had the fear of crossing bridges, did not know what was happening to him and his problems kept getting worse.

We looked at two things he had to understand in order to be an overcomer of these fears.

1.  His fear was real.

2.  His fear was wrong and sinful.

Now we are going to look at some other points:

3. His fear was not of bridges; it was a fear that had become associated with bridges.

It is very important to understand this. He needed to recognize that the bridges did not cause his fear.  There is no reason to be afraid of bridges.  Kim, the person in our example that is afraid of cars, needs to recognize that the cars themselves are not her problem.  The car does not cause the fear.

My first panic attack occurred at work.  It was the most horrible experience I had ever had up to that point in my life.  I was terrified and thought for sure I would die. I was convinced it was my heart. But I didn’t die.  I went to the doctor and he said I’d most likely been overdoing it and to take a couple of days off and rest.  He also gave me some tranquilizers if I remember correctly.  I followed his instructions.  But, at the end of those days off I had to go back and face the same place where I had that traumatic experience.  As I think back that was a VERY stressful period in my life and it is no wonder my body said, “enough.”  Physically, I was out of shape.  I didn’t eat right or exercise.  I drank and smoked, and partied all I could.  I was emotionally upset a lot with relationships and work stress.  And, I was spiritually bankrupt, as I didn’t know Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is no wonder I had that first frightful panic attack.

A little time passed and I had another attack at work.  I didn’t know what I was having were panic attacks, I simply called them “spells.” I don’t think the doctors even knew what they were back then. I was completely in the dark. I went into a downward spiral.  I truly became afraid of my office.  I didn’t want to go and as I got more tired and stressed out I began to miss days, I showed up late, and tried to find peace in more drink.  It didn’t work.  Soon, I had a panic attack in the grocery store.  Another place to fear.

Next, it happened in the bank as I waited in line.  Lines became an issue with me. My point is my world became smaller and smaller.  I quit my job.  I fell out of society and stayed at home all I could.  I got other people to do the necessary things for me and I hid out in my “safe place.”  I had Agoraphobia. It didn’t have a life anymore, I only existed! I felt hopeless.  

I get many emails from people just like I was.  They feel hopeless and helpless.  They don’t know where to turn. Perhaps you can identify with me too. The good news is that I did become an overcomer and I believe you all can if you just realize what is going on and learn how to deal with it. 

4. Paul’s real fear was of the experiences.  (The cause of fear)

The bridges were not the cause of Paul’s fear.  The car is not the cause of Kim’s fear.  And, all those places: the store, my office, the bank, the post office, and so many more were not the cause of my fear.  Once I found that out, it did help me.  I was experiencing fear of fear.  I was afraid of those awful feelings I had experienced in those places.  It took me a long time to see that, but when I did it was a real eye-opener.

Fear of fear is dreading to go somewhere or do something because some time before when we went to that particular type of place or did that particular thing we had a bad experience and were terrified with the emotions and symptoms that flooded us. That was fear and we wanted to escape.  Now we fear having that same fear again so we avoid those situations.  That is fear of fear.  We are not afraid of the place really, but of the feelings of fear we got there.   

So, bridges, cars, the workplace, grocery stores, banks, the post office, or doctor’s office, don’t produce these experiences. I hope you can see this.  It is so important. We know logically that cars and bridges don’t produce panic attacks.  We know that. We’ve all been over many bridges and we’ve all been in many cars.  They are not the culprits. 

Romans 8:15 (NIV) “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

We don’t have to live as a slave to fear.  We can change. 

5. The key to becoming an overcomer.

It is our own thoughts that produce panic attacks.  We have had panic attacks, we produce them ourselves by the bad thought habits we have picked up, and that means that we can stop producing them by a change in our thought habits.  Isn’t that wonderful?  There is hope after all.

Psalm 34:4 (KJV) “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”

God wants to deliver us from all our fears.  Isn’t that wonderful?  That is His will for us.

6. There is not some mysterious thing going on.

It is really very simple.  Our thoughts effect how we feel.  We think ahead about going to the store, riding in a car, or crossing a bridge and because we associate our former bad feelings with these things we blame them and think it will happen again.  But, in reality we are anticipating anxiety.  We are looking for it. We set ourselves up for it.

We develop or produce it by worry.  Our minds center on what we think might happen.  We get vivid mental pictures of what might happen when we cross the bridge, drive the car, and shop in a store.  These pictures take on the “what if,” scenarios. We worry about “what if,” I get shaky, “what if” I pass out, “what if” my heart beats too fast, and everything else we can imagine.  When we do this our bodies react as though these things were happening right then and releases adrenaline, which in turn brings about the symptoms we are so afraid of. Sometimes we say, “it just came over me, out of the blue.”  But, it didn’t just come over us out of the blue because we allowed our thoughts to get control and take advantage of us.  The answer is to work on the way we think. 

II Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

It is possible for us to be in control of our thoughts.  If it weren’t God would not have said so. 

Dear God, I lift up those who are reading this now.  Lord help them to see that there is a way out of the bondage of fear.  Help them realize that you are the answer.  Lord, please set them free.  Your Word says you came to set the captive free, and I pray that for any here who are slaves to fear.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Thy will be done.  Amen.

Next time we will dig a bit further into this subject.  Stay tuned! 

Check out my blog at www.hatchcreek.wordpress.com

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Mister Woodpecker looking for a tidbit!

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Kim talked about having bad panic attacks when in a car.  She does pretty well at home but even the thought of going somewhere in the car starts her anxiety level to go up. This has become a serious problem for her and she can no longer enjoy taking rides or trips with her family. She struggles with this every day.

I’ve been reading some things by Jay E. Adams who is a highly respected Bible counselor.  In The Christian Counselor’s Manual, 1973 Zondervan Publishing House,  he talks about a man, Paul, who was afraid of driving over bridges.  It all started when he had a terrifying experience while crossing a bridge.  This was actually caused by a significant sleep loss.  After this experience whenever he approached a bridge he became uncontrollably fearful and agitated.  These later episodes were not actually from the previous sleep loss but stemmed from the fear of the previous experience.  Adams says, “He had associated the experience with  bridges, and in his anxiety over whether it would occur again while crossing the bridge, he had emotionally spiraled himself into a panic.” After that even the thought of crossing a bridge brought him a sense of apprehension. 

Most of us can identify with Kim and Paul’s problems. Paul’s sounds very much like what is happening with Kim only she has associated her bad experiences with a car?  She has had bad experiences while driving or riding in a car so now she gets nervous and starts to build up anxiety whenever she even thinks about going somewhere. She is anticipating panic.

Jay Adams said that the man “had to recognize certain facts and act in a Christian manner in accordance with them.”  We will look at some of them.  I’ve also added some of my own as I’ve gone through panic attacks myself. This my take more than one post, but here is part 1: 

1. His fear was real. 

There is real fear.  Paul’s was a fear of bridges, and Kim’s is a fear of cars. 

Maybe your fear is of the grocery store, bank, post office, driving, or something else.  I had many fears that kept me from living a normal life for many years.  I missed out on the most productive years.  I pray that you will learn something here that will keep you from following in my foot steps.

And, if you have already have had panic attacks for years don’t give up!  I truly believe that you can change too!  All with the help of our Wonderful Savior!  We just need to realize what is actually going on.

2. His fear was wrong and sinful.

We’ve talked about Dr. Claire Weekes’ books and how she taught acceptance.  She said we should accept those first feelings or symptoms and then kind of float through or past a panic attack.  I can understand what she is saying. If we get that first feeling then say to ourselves, “so what,” and kind of float by it we can sometimes keep ourselves from having a panic attack.  When we accept the feeling we don’t tense up so much and instead of tightening our muscles and bodies we relax a little bit and that takes the bit out of the attack.

I believe Dr. Weekes is a wonderful person and has helped a lot of people over the years.  I myself have all of her books in my library and they helped me understand the physical side of panic attacks.  I learned what was going on in my body when I had all those strange feelings.  This is good but it is not the total answer to being healed.  Her books are not written from a Christian perspective but from a secular world view.  Anyone can be helped to a certain extent from her books, believers and unbelievers alike.

But, as Christians we have something special.  God have given us the Holy Spirit to live within us and with Him all the power that we need to be overcomers of anything in our lives.  Our resources are different from those of the world.  We have the Word of God, the privilege of prayer, the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us.  I hope you realize how much more we have in Christ.  We are not the same as unbelievers and we do not have to live the same. 

Let’s go to the Word of God and apply what God says to our problems.

Psalms 1:1-2 NASB How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

God tells us not to get our counseling from the world but from His Word.
We should love the Word and take delight in it.  Keep it in our hearts and think about it all the time.  

Psalms 73:24 NASB With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.

He will guide us as we follow His Word, and when we die He will receive us in Heaven.  That is wonderful!

Isaiah 9:6 NASB For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is our counselor.  And one of His names is Wonderful Counselor!  How great is that?

We’ve learned in past posts that there are different types of fear.  We looked at; fear of the future, fear of man, and fear of death. These fears are sinful fears. 

But, we also saw there are good fears as well.  These are natural fears (which keep us from hurting ourselves) and most importantly the fear of God. These are holy fears.

Proverbs 29:25 NASB The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

Philippians 4:6 NASB Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

2 Timothy 1:7 NASB For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

We can plainly see that God tells us in the Word that we are not to fear.  I remember when I first saw the verse “Be anxious for nothing…” It really shook me up.  Here I was an anxiety-ridden, wimpy person who didn’t dare to hardly exist, and He said “don’t be anxious?”  I was dripping with anxiety!

I put that verse in the back of my head for awhile and didn’t deal with it.  That was a mistake.  I wondered if it really meant what it seemed to.  It did. As I studied my Bible more I had to admit that worry and anxiety were indeed sinful.  That was a hard lesson for me. 

Matthew 6:27 NASB “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

Matthew 6:34 NASB “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It is clear that God does not want us to worry and fret.  He is Sovereign and will take care of us.  If He tells us not to do something and we go ahead and do it, that is a sin.  I’m sorry, but it is true.

It means we are not to be anxious and we are not to worry.  They are both sins.  That is heavy stuff isn’t it?  It is a hard pill to swallow, but when we face it head on in Truth we will become overcomers.

Wayne & Joshua Mack in The Fear Factor, 2002 Hensley Publishing, said this, “The root meaning of phobo, the Greek term for fear, is “flight.”  That’s the nature of fear.  Fear causes us to run away from things that frighten us.  And fear becomes sinful when it causes us to run away from the things God has commanded us to do.”

He goes on to tell us that fear is the opposite of power and is the same as weakness.  When we can’t use our gifts and when we are not fulfilling our responsibilities and obeying God’s commands we are weak.  I can certainly identify with that.  I was so weak and fearful that I did not do anything constructive for a very long time.  I could not even go to church let alone be a helpful person there.  I could not have a social life.  I could not work.  I could not live a fulfilling life. I could not help others very much for a long time. One plus, I did pray a lot for others.  It took me a long time to learn the things I’m about to share with you. 

We will close on those thoughts for this time.  But, I want you to know that there is hope for you.  You can learn how to overcome those awful panic attacks with the help of our Mighty Savior.

May God richly bless you today!

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Mourning Dove

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In my last post we looked at different kinds of fears.  We saw that they were the fear of man, the fear of death, and the fear of the future.  A lot of our fears fall under these groupings.  These are all sinful fears. 

Today I want to address some good kinds of fears.  Yes, there are good fears!  Our goals should not be to eliminate all fear but to distinguish between what are the good kinds and what are the sinful ones.  After all, God made us with the ability to fear. 

Natural Fear:

Proverbs 22:3 NASB The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

This shows that man sees the danger ahead and takes steps to avoid it.

The fear of falling off a cliff, for example, is a natural kind of fear.  It is healthy to prevent us from taking that next step when we come up to the edge of the cliff.  Also, the fear of a wild animal is a natural good kind of fear.  It helps our bodies rev up so that we can run and escape. 

However, when we have  a panic attack our bodies go into this kind of fear when there is no real danger. This is not healthy. There could be many reasons why this happens the first time.  I’ve talked about that in a previous message where we talked about the physical side of panic disorder.  The problem is that our bodies get sensitized when we continue to have panic attacks and it is easy for us to slip into this kind of fear at the drop of a hat.  The way out of having panic attacks is to make more time between the attacks, by not pushing ourselves, resting, and let our bodies readjust.

Isaiah 7:25 NASB As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns;

This is saying one would fear the briars and thorns as they will cut and scrape you and be painful.  That is natural fear.

Wayne Mack says in his book, The Fear Factor, “The problem is, our sinful nature takes this good, helpful emotion and twists, perverts and distorts it.  As a result, it’s no longer productive but paralyzing, no longer natural but sinful.”

Holy Fear:

Proverbs 1:7 NASB The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 14:27 NASB The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.

Psalms 31:19 NASB How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!

Again I would like to quote from Wayne Mack because this is so good.  Here he shows the differences.

“Holy fear and sinful fear are opposites.  Sinful fear destroys; holy fear enlivens.  Sinful fear is a terrible affliction; holy fear is a great benefit.  Sinful fear shortens our days; holy fear lengthens them.  Sinful fear is a source of misery; holy fear is a spring of joy.  Sinful fear leads men astray; holy fear puts men on the right path.  They only way to overcome sinful fear is to replace it with holy fear.”

There you go.  We are back to “put-offs,” and “put-ons.”  We have to put off the bad fear and put on the good kind of fear. 

You may ask, what is this holy fear you are talking about?  It is the fear of God.  There are many scriptures that talk about the fear of God.   

Results of Holy Fear:

1.  It produces a fear of sin.

Philippians 2:12 NASB So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

Working out our salvation with fear and trembling means that it is a serious business.  We shouldn’t take it for granted.  We need to keep studying the Word and learn how we can obey what God says.  We should not take sin lightly.  We recognize it for what it is and repent and get right with God.

2.  It produces a fear of God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:6 NASB  And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.

The only way we can know God and know what he expects of us is to read and study the Bible.  As we do we will realize many things that God wants us to change or do in our lives.  We obey out of high respect and honor to God.  He first loved us, and now we love Him.  We should have a heart attitude of pleasing Him.  When we do this we will not fall into sin.

3. It produces knowledge and wisdom.

Proverbs 1:7  NASB “The fear of he Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” 

Proverbs 15:33  NASB “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom.

True wisdom and knowledge are found in the Word of God.  We learn what the Bible says and then wisdom gives us the ability to apply it to our lives.

Psalms 119:11 NASB Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.

That is wisdom.

4.  It produces joy and contentment.

Proverbs 15:16 NASB  Better is a little with the fear of the LORD Than great treasure and turmoil with it.

Isn’t that the truth?  I’d much rather have little of this world’s wealth then be rich and have all the problems that it entails.  People talk about winning the lottery and they’d be happy.  I don’t think so.

As you can see the Bible is where we need to turn to discover how to live our lives in a healthy and blessed way. 

The Fear Factor: What Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know by Wayne and Joshua Mack can be found here:

www.mackministeries.org

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 Wintry Blast of Ice and Snow!

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We’ve been looking at the spiritual side of our lives.  We have seen that once we are saved we are a new creation.  God gives us a new heart and the ability to change.  Isn’t that wonderful?  What I like about this is that God makes it possible for us to change.

We have many old habits that tag along with us and keep right on popping up in our lives.  We have to get rid of them.  The Bible tells us that the way to do it is to put-off the old habits and for every one we put off, we are to put-on new habits. It out with the old and in with the new!

As we study the Bible we need to evaluate all that we think, say, and do, and see if it lines up with scripture.  When it doesn’t then need to change.

Romans 6:12-14 NASB Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Isn’t it great that God has made a way for us to change?  We do not have to be a slave to sin again. 

Let’s take a look at some of the “put-offs.”

Ephesians 4:25-31 NASB Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 NASB But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

When we notice a habit that we need to change. We must confess our sinful behavior to God.

1 John 1:9 NSAB  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In order to change from our old bad habits, we not only have to put off the old habits, but we must replace them with good habits.

Romans 6:19 NASB  I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

Now let’s take a look at some of the “put-ons.”

Colossians 3:10 NASB  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him–

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:28-29 NASB He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

Ephesians 4:32 NASB Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Colossians 3:12 -17 NASB So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

2 Peter 1:5-8 NASB Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Study these lists of put-offs and put-ons.  Then, you could make a list for yourself.  On one side write the “put-offs” and opposite of that write down the thing you need to “put-on” in place of the old bad habit.  When we replace bad habits that are not Biblical with good habits that are Biblical we will see a lot of growth in our Christian life, and God will bless us for it.

Yes, we can live as believers and not as unbelievers.  Our Lord is  gracious in that He gave us His Word so that we can really get down to where the rubber meets the road and make changes that He desires for us.  He made us and knows how we should live.  We came into this world and got caught up in it.  It has influenced all of us in a negative way.  We all have things we need to work on and I pray that is study will help you change your habits.  

Blessings,

Bonnie

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Previously we talked about how different we are in God’s eyes when we are not saved and when we are saved.  We saw from the Word there is a great deal of difference.

Now that we are believers are we living like a believer, or are we still living like an unbeliever?

If you are not living as a believer, then you must examine yourself as the Bible says.  If there is any doubt in your mind about whether or not you are truly born again, please write to me privately, and we will go over it together.  This is very important because the things we will learn will not work for the unbeliever. 

2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?

“When you see our situation the same way you would if you were still an unbeliever, you are failing to realize what a great gift God has given you.”  (Wayne Mack, The Fear Factor, Hensley Publishing, pg.18.)  That gift is the Holy Spirit and all the resources God has.

You see we don’t have to live the same as before.  We don’t have to carry all our old baggage with us when we become believers.  Take a look at your own life.  Can you see any changes in your before and after picture?  Did you have panic disorder before you were a Christian?  I did.  When I became a Christian I did not know that God had made a way for me to be rid of fear.  But, it was still true.  It took me many years of Bible study to learn this.  That is why it took me so long to get better. 

When we become a true believer something wonderful happens to us.  God creates in us a new person.  We are not the same.  It is a supernatural work that the Lord does. We don’t look any different in our bodies, it is a spiritual new birth.  God gives us the Holy Spirit to come and live inside us.  Knowing this gives us the hope we need to be overcomers of any situation that comes up in our lives.

The world teaches us that the key to success is to “believe in yourself.”  Have “self-confidence” and good “self-esteem.”  Well, no matter how much you believe in yourself, and feel good about yourself it just won’t hold up.  We are not that powerful.  We cannot stop things from happening in our lives.  God is the only one who can control everything.  Isn’t that true? 

Look at the verse below.  It plainly says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature.  The old things passed away and brand new things have come.  Isn’t that amazing?  We are actually new creations in Christ! 

2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

I love that verse because it tells me I am now different.  It is possible for me to change.  It gives me hope.  I want you also to have that hope.  You can change too.  Fear and anxiety, or whatever other thing plagues you, don’t have to dog us all the days of our lives.  We can be victorious.

Here is a story to illustrate this:

Suppose there was a very poor person who had a job but didn’t have any way to get there.  So, everyday, that man had to get up extra early to walk the five miles to work.  Then, after putting in a full-days work he had to walk all the way back home.  He was exhausted, and all he could do was eat some soup and go right to bed to be ready for the next day.  He didn’t have a home life with his wife and children.  All he did was toil and rest.  Sounds like a pretty boring existence doesn’t it?

Then one day along came a rich man who saw this man’s plight and said to him, “Here I will give you this brand new car.  It has a full tank of gas.  Oh, yes, take this, it’s a gas card so that whenever you need a refill you can fill up the tank.”  The poor man was very grateful and carefully parked the car in his driveway.

The next morning he got up and walked to work again and then walked home that evening as had been his habit. He continued on this same way ignoring the wonderful free gift the rich man had given him.  Oh, he would take the car out on Sunday and drive it to church and back but that was it.

What is wrong with this picture?  It is plain to see that the poor man was not taking advantage of the free gift that was given him.

Isn’t that how some of us live the Christian life?  We have been given so much from the Master, but do we really apply it to our lives?  He has made us a brand new creation spiritually in Christ. Not only that, He has given us the fuel to run on, the Holy Spirit.   That is similar to how the gas in the car gives the car power to run on.  The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to do whatever God asks us to.

But, we too, can be like the man in the story and not use what has been freely given us.  It might be because we don’t realize what we have.  Or, it can also be like the man who was so used to walking to work that he could not change his habit.  We have many old habits that need changing, and God has given us the power and the ability to change them through salvation and the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes we are like the man in the story and only show our spiritual side on Sundays when we go to church.  We go, sing songs, listen to a message, and go through the motions, but then just leave everything there behind us. When Monday morning comes along we act like we leave our spiritual side at home.  What a waste!  If we do this we need to examine ourselves and see if we really are in the faith. 

Being a Christian is far more than a Sunday habit.  We need to be in the Bible everyday, pray, and meditate on the Word.  Then, we can activate the power in our lives to conquer fear and anxiety.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

That is another amazing and wonderful scripture.

Blessings,

Bonnie

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April2007 020

This pansy started out as an dried up, dead looking, unattractive seed.  Then the Lord made it into this beautiful flower. What a transformation!

Quiet often when people are saved they are left to themselves and no one comes along beside them and explains how they are different and what has just happened.

We will look at ourselves from God’s point of view before and after we were saved.  Below are the actual words of God and not man’s ideas of mankind. 

Before:

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,

We were spiritually dead.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We were eternally separated from God because we were all sinners.

James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

We were actually enemies of God.  I didn’t realize that myself.

Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

We were not only enemies but were actually hostile toward God, and helpless. 

2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

We also were blinded by Satan to the gospel.

2 Timothy 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Satan held us captive to do his will.  We were working for him, but we probably didn’t realize that.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

Everyone has sinned at some time.

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

We were powerless on our own to overcome sin’s hold on us. It owned us.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

We were unable to understand the things of God.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

We were incapable of living a spiritually fruitful and meaningful life.

Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

We were without hope.  No hope for the future, and no hope of accomplishing anything on our own in this world. 

God had to reveal himself to us in order that we could be saved. We were hopeless left on our own. He had to open our eyes of understanding and allow us to hear and understand the gospel message.  He gave us the faith we needed to respond and we were saved.  Then he ushered us into his family and gave us eternal blessings.

When I go over this and think about all God has done for me in allowing me to become a believer and all the benefits and blessing that go along with it I am humbled and forever grateful.  I see where I was and what God saved me from.  It is scary to realize that I could have stayed in the “before,” state and my fate would have been eternal hell.  What a Savior! God’s love surpasses any that we know, and his grace is abundantly poured out on us time and again.

After we became a Christian our position in Christ changed dramatically.  Here is how God see us now.

After:

Colossians 2:13 -14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

We were forgiven of all our sins.  Christ bore them on the cross for us.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

We became a new creation in Christ.  That is something we need to understand.  We are truly a new creation, and we can live out a new life here and now.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

We had a new spiritual birth.  We were born again.  We became babes in Christ.  And, we have a new home in Heaven.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

We were baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

We were sealed in Jesus Christ, and given the Holy Spirit.

John 10:28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

We were given the gift of eternal life and we cannot lose it.  We are in God’s hands.

Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

We have been adopted into God’s family.  We need not to fear.

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

We are a citizen of Heaven.  We are in this world but we are not of this world.

Romans 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

We are now freed from sin and a slave of God, with many blessings.

Colossians 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

We were delivered from darkness to light. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

We can defeat any problem because God will not allow any difficulty that can overwhelm us.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We can now realize that God uses our problems and trials as opportunities for our spiritual growth.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

God has chosen us and blessed us to be different and special so that we can glorify him for what he has done for us.

These are just some of the blessings we have been given when we came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  I pray as you read this over and meditate upon it you will see how much God has changed us from what we were before. 

Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

We can be more than conquerors through Christ in anything that comes our way in life.  That includes panic attacks and agoraphobia. 

We need to ponder this question:  Am I living like a believer or an unbeliever?  Stay tuned.

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Morning Sunrise  

A New Day

When we become Christians we can aquire a renewed mind.  Just as dawn bursts   forth with a new day, we can have a mind that is at peace with the world.

Philippians 4:6 (NASB) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

God doesn’t want us to be anxious about anything.  Our minds are precious to Him and he wants us be at peace.  He tells us not to worry but to pray. We can ask God for anything that is in His will.  He also, say that we must be thankful in our prayers.  We have much to be thankful for.  When we pray and give thanks and then petition God we will want what He thinks is best.  Then, we can leave the problem at His feet and rest in peace.

When we do He goes on to say: 

Philippians 4:7 (The Amplified Bible) “And God’s peace (be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace) which transcends all understanding, shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Wow!  I think we’d better meditate on that for awhile, don’t you?  These verses are loaded with help and hope for us who are anxious and worry warts.

Wouldn’t you like to have that peace deep down in your soul?  We can be assured that we are saved through Christ and know that He is in control of all things.  We can learn to be content in whatever situation we are in.  This kind of peace can’t even be comprehended in our own finite minds.  This kind of peace will actually guard our thoughts when we are in Jesus Christ.

If we can attain to these scriptures, and we can by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be living in peace with God and with ourselves.  Anxiety and fear will not have a grip on us anymore!

Then he goes on in verse 8 of Philippians  to tell us what we should think about instead of worrying and fretting.  I will quote this too from the Amplified version of the Bible, as it is so good.

“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things—fix your minds on them.” 

When it says, “fix” you mind on them means to get a tight grip on them.  Hang on to them, don’t let them go.  They are actually a good prescription for our mental health. 

Do your thoughts line up with the above?  We have to examine our thoughts and practice to think God’s way in order to renew our minds. It always amazes me to contemplate the fact that God loves us so much that he even cares about what we think.  Isn’t that amazing?  I mean do we really care about what others think?  Or, if we did, do we have any way to know what someone else thinks?  I’d like to know what my husband thinks sometimes, but then again it is probably better that I don’t.

God tells us to “renew our minds.” 

Romans 12:2 (NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

You see if you work on what you think about you will renew your mind.  And if you keep reading and studying the Word, you will renew your mind.  We all need a mind makeover.  We don’t need to worry and be anxious.  That is not a part of what God wants for us.

Philippians 4:9 (NASB) The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul says to practice what you have learned, received and heard and seen in Him.  He had taught them and was an example and role model for them.  And he says to model your way of living in it and then the God of peace—which is of untroubled, undisturbed well-being–will be with you. 

I think the key word in the above verse is “practice.”  You see it doesn’t happen automatically.  We must practice just as an athlete practices and trains for an event.  Practice what you think about and how you think and it will become a habit.  You will be truly blessed by God with peace that passes understanding.

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