Looking For The Cure For Coronavirus Fears?

Psalm 91:9-11

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.

 

Nuff said…

May peace and blessings fill your homes and hearts

~George

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Three Steps To Mitigate Your Fear Response

What To Do When Your Health, Finances or Relationships Are Threatened

Mar 14 · 10 min read

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Do you sometimes have sudden attacks of anxiety and overwhelming fear that last for several minutes? Maybe your heart pounds, you sweat, and you feel like you can’t breathe or think. Do these attacks occur at unpredictable times with no obvious trigger, causing you to worry about the possibility of having another one at any time?

If so, you may have a type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder. Left untreated, panic disorder can lower your quality of life because it may lead to other fears and mental health disorders, problems at work or school, and social isolation.

That is quoted from the National Institute of Mental Health on Panic Disorders.

The question I’m asking:

Is the Coronavirus a legitimate sell-all-your-stocks-and-buy-months-of-toilet-paper kind of situation?

Or, do the reactions we are seeing at the local grocery store and world financial markets indicate a mass hysteria of sorts?

The Brain-Body Connection

Our Amygdala, the fight or flight center of our brain has one purpose, protect our life.

It is a miraculously complex system that affects nearly every major body function in a millisecond when it perceives danger. Blood flow shifts, digestion minimizes, adrenalin increases, breathing rate increases, glucose rushes to the muscles for increased response.

The Fight or Flight is life-saving

The problem, however, is that the amygdala is not tied to our intellect per-se; it is more tied to the emotional centers of the brain. It is monitoring what our mind-body perceives as a danger, not whether or not something is actually dangerous.

That’s why we can love the excitement of a roller coaster or a haunted house. The effects of physical and emotional surprises and disorienting sensations that our body isn’t used to create a rush of neurochemicals.

We pay huge money to experience that kind of fear.

Now, how about a job interview or performance review or a play audition or final exams?

How about those things where, in our mind and self-talk, believe something to be life-threatening when it actually isn’t?

Being that this topic is about our global reactions to the Coronavirus pandemic you might be saying, “that’s great but this virus is life-threatening possibly unlike any other virus”. Yes, it could be, but stay with me here.

Have you ever “made yourself sick” worrying about something?

Lord knows I have dealt with anxiety disorders my whole life.

I have to overcome anxiety-ridden (but not dangerous) situations often, and more-often-than-not, I’m successful.

It has taken decades of practice and huge amounts of self-awareness and intentionality to even step into those “perceived” situations that my amygdala inaccurately tells me I need to be protected and react immediately and irrationally.

I know how my fear-based existence developed. In my childhood, I was beaten and abused and my home life was rarely safe. I learned that people can be really mean and dangerous and that stepping out of line, physically or even verbally, would most-likely have dire physical consequences.

I learned to be afraid of the situations that I fear.

For example, I know that having an annual performance review is not going to result in me being beaten. I have received rewards at work in the past so it is even unlikely that a review will result in a pay cut or termination or some kind of other disciplinary action… so why can I be physically and emotionally sick with worry for days in advance?

Whether the danger is real or imagined (or simply exaggerated in our mind), the fear spreads throughout the nervous system, driven by a combination of conscious thought and subconscious memories.

If you’ve been burned by a hot stove in the past, the sight of a glowing hot burner or flame will induce the protection and response centers of the brain.

If you got in trouble a lot as a kid and yelled at, then hit or punished in some fashion, then just the act of being judged, and for sure being yelled at (or in my case even hearing other people argue loudly) can trigger a physiological response automatically.

I don’t choose to be afraid, I simply learned to be afraid in this situation.

The bottom line is, in a millisecond we can be “triggered”. It truly is a form of PTSD. If our reactions are not proportionate to the current situation, then we are responding emotionally, not rationally.

Imagine walking through a forest trail with a friend and you guys are in deep conversation. All of a sudden a bush rattles and a snake jumps out onto the trail. You leap backward, only to realize it was a branch and not a snake.

That is how fast our animal brain responds to our “beliefs”. We believed it was a snake, and reacted 100% emotionally and physically, based on what we thought was true.

Once we realized it wasn’t a snake, we then felt silly.

Gee, is there anytime in history where we did something (individually or as a group, community, nation or even globally) that we looked foolish over afterward?

I believe we are seeing some really good examples right now.

In applying this general understanding of human psychology, biology and neurology to the current Novid-19 virus, we have to ask; what would be a measured and reasonable response?

Five Steps To Mitigate Fear-Based Behaviors

  1. Increase Self-Awareness

We must learn to notice the sensations of fear when they first begin. Knowing how to step off the ledge is pointless if we don’t even know we are standing on one.

Next time you are stressed out, pay attention to the physical reactions such as tightness in the chest, shallow breathing, wrinkled brow or slight headache. Everyone has their own physiological responses, get used to recognizing yours.

Also, emotional manifestations must come into clear view. Short-temper, becoming reactionary and feeling tense and short with people instead of calm.

Tony Robbins calls this “States”. Several times a day I will intentionally poll my mind and body and ask; what are my states right now.

I’ve become especially good at responding quickly, such as after getting bad news like a loved one was hurt or a virus is expected to kill off the planet in the next 30 days.

2. Step Out Of The Fight-or-Flight Response

Once I notice that I’m feeling more emotionally led instead of in my happy place (a state of calm and thinking clearly), then I will immediately take steps to come down off the ledge.

Whether a physical threat or an emotional jolt, the body reacts the same. The chemicals that flood the system need time to dissipate. Just like having great sex can leave the mind and body flooded with feel-good chemicals for hours, fear-based chemicals do the same thing.

If your blood pressure shot through the roof when someone cuts you off on the freeway, you know that it doesn’t go away quickly. We can play the scene over and over and make ourselves angrier than the initial event.

We must first change our self-dialogue and perspective of the situation. We must begin to let our conscious more rational mind begin to self-soothe the emotional beast who just through red paint all over a white canvas.

Meditation, if it is your thing, is scientifically proven to be one of the quickest and most effective ways to calm the nervous system. Putting on your favorite music, calling a friend, anything to break the rumination death-spiral.

Obviously, you aren’t going to cross your legs and close your eyes while barreling down the freeway, but any kind of mantra or repetitive affirmation as to your safety and well-being will begin to balance the neurochemistry. For me, I like reciting my favorite bible verses for reassurance that unless Jesus has been spotted, this too shall pass.

3. Fix The Narrative

Once we notice, through self-awareness, that the wheels are coming off the bus and have taken steps to get back into a state of calm where we can rationally evaluate this situation, then we can start taking action.

Just like the branch on the trail, odds are the source of fear is the story you are telling yourself creating a false reality in your own mind. This perpetuates the fear and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

(See, I told you there was reason to panic, I went to the store and there is no toilet paper, everyone must be panicking for a reason, this is really bad)

For millions of people who are glass-empty types, all news is bad news. Even with the overwhelming information that indicates my performance review will go just fine, I sat in fear and worry over the “, yeah but…” or “what if…”.

Now is the time to step back out of the clouds and start rationally looking at the situation.

Usually, the biggest fear-inducer is a lack of information. Fear of the unknown can be extremely emotionally crippling. Waiting for the results of the cancer test, seeing how bad the markets are going to crash today, waiting for a loved one to get out of surgery.

If we haven’t learned (it doesn’t come naturally) the skills to self-soothe then all of this is exponentially more difficult.

For me, this is where the Serenity Prayer comes in;

bible prayer

serenity prayer

Disproportioned responses to any situation usually transpire when we flip that paradigm and start trying to change the things we cannot change and ignore then things we can do; hence the need for the wisdom to know the difference.

With respect to the Coronavirus, I had to turn off the headlines and start Googling for credible resources.

We must do our own due diligence and stop destroying our emotional well-being at the whorehouses of sensationalism and click-bait journalism.

There is a lot of good information, but it is mostly still just projections of the worst-case scenario. When you get under the surface you will find that there is some reasonable cause for hope that it won’t be anywhere near as bad as initially projected.

Will it be bad? Yes, it already is. And it seems likely that millions of people will be affected over time, either personally or someone they know.

Will it get worse before it gets better? Yes, that too seems inevitable.

But the mass sell-off in the stock market was fear of fear. The first few people started selling their stocks and then the lemmings jumped on board believing they had no choice, and eventually it got so bad that there almost was little choice.

Much like the depression, it was a fear-based run on the banks that bankrupted the financial institutions.

I myself didn’t move anything. It looks bad on paper, but I have the exact number of shares that I had before this started, they are just worth less. When the market recovers, my shares will regain their value.

That is provided consumer confidence (i.e *not* panicking) can ride this out.

The alternative is the domino effect of the 1930s.

Granted, I hope I live old enough to see them recover, it takes a while. But I’ve survived every crash over the last 40 years, and God-willing we will all recover from this one.


I don’t know what your faith looks like, but hopefully, by some of the information presented here, you can see that much of our fear is fed by worst-case-scenario catastrophizing.

Clearly, everyone’s faith is being put to the test; how is your’s holding up?

There are nearly 8 Billion people on the planet, do the statistics really indicate that YOU and your family will be one of the “relatively” few who will die from this?

And that really is what we are talking about; fear of death, starvation, and not being able to wipe our bum.

Would you panic over just having “flu-like” symptoms? Fever, sore throat, cough.

Because that is what this virus does to more than 80% of its victims so far. And with the mortality rate currently hovering around 1% (if you throw out the initial high spike from the early days of the virus’ dramatic entrance) then that means 99% of people who contract it, recover.

10’s if not 100’s of thousands of people probably have the coronavirus right now and think it is just a cold or flu.

Again, I am not minimizing the severity, I am simply trying to bring it into a manageable emotional perspective.

Do you buy lottery tickets? Do you stay indoors during a lightning storm? Do you swim in the ocean?

odds

The odds of dying at the hands of Covad-19 are elevated, but relatively low compared to other every-day life activities and risk-factors.

And just like a lightning storm, for now, we are asked to stay indoors. Simply limit our physical contact with others for a few weeks in hopes of mitigating the rapid spread and prayerfully warmer weather will affect the virus just as it does the flu.

Chances are we are looking at this being a seasonal risk, just like the bird flu in summer with increased mosquitos or frostbite in the Himalayas.

Take precautions, be smart, do your meditations to calm your fears, read your bible for greater assurance that the world isn’t ending tomorrow, and stop adding to the problem.

Mastering our emotions are at the foundation of any successful life.

If you find that you have bought into the panic, a good question to ask would be: why? And then follow up with: would I be happier if I did something about it?

Life Mastery (my life’s calling to teach and preach) begins with self-mastery.

And self-mastery begins with self-awareness.

Are you faith-based, or fear-based?

It is something you not only can change but must change if fear makes you do things that hurt your neighbors under the guise of self-preservation.

Let’s all start making our decisions on “what is” instead of “what if”. If we don’t have all the “what is” answers just yet, then dig deep and let’s wait until we do before panicking.

Along those lines, if anybody has a 2 month’s supply of toilet paper, can you ship me a couple of rolls, I ran out and can’t find any locally.

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Fear Is A Choice

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When you get in your car, are you afraid of dying?

Do you sometimes choose to stay home and not go to the grocery store or work because of your increased risk of death by vehicle accident?

Why not? The statistics are staggering.

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source: https://www.thewanderingrv.com/car-accident-statistics/
  • 6 million car accidents a year, over 16,000 per day!
  • Up to 50 million people injured or disabled
  • over 3,000 deaths every day.

So how do you explain the huge percentage of people who know texting and driving increases that risk factor exponentially but still text and drive?

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source: https://carsurance.net/blog/texting-and-driving-statistics/

How many people do you think were texting and driving on the way to the grocery store to wipe out the shelves of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and selling all of their stocks and causing the biggest market crash in 30+ years.

OK, what about the flu statistics?

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source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

51 million people infected, up to 55,000 deaths.

YEAH… BUT….

Yes, the early statistics of rapid world infection rates and potential for higher than the average mortality rate of Covid-19 and other factors make it a legitimate world threat.

But does anyone fear the everyday ways that will kill more people than a single virus?

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source: https://easo.org/media-portal/statistics/

Obesity is the 5th leading risk of death in the world affecting 1.4 billion people.

But how good does that large pizza and double-double with fries and a shake taste when you are jonesing for some junk food?

Ever fear the slow death from too many cheeseburgers and milkshakes?

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source: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

You are one of nearly 8 billion people on the planet. And I’ve got one last statistic to share

100% of all people on the planet cycle off the planet within 100 years, most much sooner.

My 401K is getting slaughtered and I can’t find a damn roll of toilet paper in town for only one reason, because people are freaking out — STOP IT!

How about we start freaking out on how to live our best life today instead of fearing how we might die tomorrow

We live our lives bravely in defiance of things trying to kill us every day; Freeways, weather, criminals, household accidents, meteors, earthquakes, animals and many more.

It is a dangerous world, why does this virus belong in a special fear folder in our minds?

I propose that it doesn’t. Just add this to the list of things that you already cope with every day and let’s get back to normal life.

Sure, that may mean we need to stay indoors and miss out on a few basketball games; is that worth crashing world financial markets?


If you wanted something legitimate to worry about, especially if you haven’t given it any thought before now, this might be a great time to consider where you will spend eternity.

We are going to spend MUCH more time there than we are here.

The answer to that one question has the power to ease nearly all of the fears that you may be burdened with today.

I’m just saying…

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Should We Fear The Coronavirus

That Depends On Your Faith


Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Matthew 6:27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Jeremiah 17:7–8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Lamentations 3:56–57 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”

The Coronavirus is real.

We will all likely be affected (not infected) in some manner before this first wave passes.
The news headlines can be terrifying as we wait to learn more about the total impact and discover tangible ways that we can protect ourselves and our loved ones over the coming days and weeks.

That being said, pulling all of your money out of the financial markets, making a run on your local grocery store to buy out all the supplies, and other extreme measures only hurts your neighbors, community and nation and the world.

The mindset of “I’ve gotta get mine” is going to prove more dangerous than the virus itself

World markets are crashing not in an effort to stop the virus, they are crashing because people are panicking.

It’s like the Rodney King riots when the people went into the streets looting and destroying their own neighborhoods. Really? Where is the humanity in that?

Reactionary fear destroys everything in its path, just like a virus

If you are Christian, now is the time to show how your faith sustains you. We do that by not reacting in fear. We pray and we help others.

Those with a faith that works know what I’m saying, we trust God, no matter the circumstances or outcomes. And in that strength, we support our families and communities any way we can, the best way we can.

I freely admit, right now, it’s hard to know what that looks like.

Much of the world hates religion. News flash so did Jesus.

Jesus died fighting against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. There has always been a lot wrong with the church because it has always been filled with regular flawed people.
But that doesn’t mean God is flawed or that the Church isn’t good.

The people you see who use the bible as a weapon to condemn others are religious people pushing an agenda who believe they are helping. They were taught the message of condemnation, not mercy and salvation.

The people you see working the homeless shelters and caring for the sick or disadvantaged in their communities are Christians.

The people you see taking the gospel into prisons and serving in 3rd world ministry outreach and gathering in prayer for our neighbors and nations are Christians.
The people you see donating their hard-earned money to their local church and other charities are Christians.

The people you see meeting together in people’s home and visiting people in hospitals and caring for each other’s families, those are Christians.

The people you see who seem to be unshakable in the face of great stress at the office, or give up their place in line or buy groceries for a stranger, those are Christians.
Does that mean all Christians do these things? No.

Does that mean everyone that does those things are Christian? No.

1 John 4:18 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

But God is love, and He instructs Christians to love, not fear.

Matthew 25:31-46 (MSG) The Sheep and the Goats

31–33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34–36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37–40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.’

41–43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because –
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

Fight or Flight is not the best response to a natural disaster.

“How do I get mine”, must be replaced with, “how can I help”

As a global economy and community, we can get through this; the human race is resilient. But the only way to do that well is through connection, cooperation, and compassion.

As Christians, it is up to us to model what that looks like.

We need more faith and less fear

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It Has Been A While

world religions

My faith has been strong, but my body has been weak and my soul has ached… for far too long.

I don’t feel like going into any details at the moment, but I’m grateful to say that my writer’s strike (or muse-less existence) is prayerfully coming to a close.

You see, I read a testimonial on Medium.com this morning of a young man who had a bad “religious” experience in his teen years and has used that to justify his lack of faith… and my heart ached.

As a result of reading his story, I felt compelled to sign up on Medium.com, become a member, join the writers guild and draft my first post there. (That’s more inspiration than I have in quite a while, it was a spark of life that I’ve been missing)

The topic is one that I think many of my existing readers will relate too and hopefully enjoy. At the very least, it shares more of my story.

If this sounds interesting then check out:  FAITH IS NOT ABOUT RELIGION

Thanks for any feedback and my continued prayers that you all are well.

~George

 

 

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SOAP: John 5:1-15 You Are Well

Two things before I dive into today’s SOAP.

First, On the advice of a trusted brother here on WordPress (thank you, Bruce), I have loosened the noose and am giving myself permission to not “feel” behind if I can’t keep up with this SOAP series EVERY day.

But I have chosen instead to compensate for by, God willing, continuing SOAP through the entire New Testament.

I will let it take however long it takes, but I’m really getting a lot out of this process and I’ve never read the NT from beginning to end straight through, so I’m really excited about this.

And the second is, unlike other mornings, I read the passage today before starting this intro section and my heart is already heavily stirred by today’s reading.

In my opinion, one of the most challenging verses in all of the Bible is in here, can you guess which one it is? 

I’ve also got a second challenge for everyone.

Something is missing in this passage, do you see what it is? (hint: it has something to do with the translation I am using)

I’m excited to get started, let’s do this!

Artus_Wolffort_-_Christ_at_the_Pool_of_Bethesda_(Ontario)

Artus Wolffort – Christ at the Pool of Bethesda

Scripture

John 5:1-15 (ESV)

The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Observation

  • v1 – there was a feast of the Jews
  • v3 – in these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
  • v5 – One man…invalid for thirty-eight years
  • v6 – “Do you want to be healed?”
  • v7 – Sir, I have no one…
  • v8 – Get up…
  • v10 – It is unlawful
  • v11 – But.. the man who healed me… said to..
  • v13 – the man who had been healed did not know who it was
  • v14 – “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

Application

v1 – these guys eat a lot!

What that stirs in me is that I’m not a very social person. I find crowds and lots of simultaneous conversations creates anxiety in me. But the Jews and the first church of Acts, they hung out together all the time in celebration and fellowship.

Is my propensity for solitude a God-given trait or leftover from my younger wounded places?

Should I be pushing more against my comfort zone and spending more time “feasting with the community of believers?” 

v3 – a multitude, as in a lot of crippled people.

This just broke my heart for all of the sick and suffering in hospitals, convalescent centers, rehabilitation centers, and the host of other people where the millions of sick, crippled and dying gather with the hope that they may be healed.

When we pray for Jesus to break our hearts for what breaks his, these are who he is talking about, along with those in prison who are just suffering from broken hearts and minds.

Is my heart troubled enough to take action for the people in my community who need prayer, comfort, encouragement, mentorship or other tangible resources that I could provide?

v5 – Thirty-eight years, likely most of his life.

When I’m struggling with feeling like my life is hard or isn’t fair, do I ever take into consideration how incredibly blessed I am, even with the challenges I face?

When I complain, am I not telling God I am dissatisfied with my life? 

And when I’m complaining to God about areas of my life that are the results of my own choices (hated job, broken relationships, self-induced health issues, child custody problems), am I not blaming God for situations that I got myself into and in which I have the free-will to get myself out of, or at least make the best of?

An invalid likely doesn’t have the same opportunities that I do, the same as persecuted Christians throughout the world don’t have the same freedoms I have, and yet I can complain about my life?

According to 2013 statistics, over 50% of the world’s population lived on less than 2.50 per day, nearly 4 billion people. Am I ever ungrateful for my income?

v6Do you want to be healed?

The obvious answer is “of course Jesus, please heal me”. But we shouldn’t be so quick to answer questions with our minds without first letting God check our hearts.

If I got well, I would have to go back to work. Isn’t being sick convenient for me? 

Am I doing everything I can to get back to work ASAP, or is there a part of me that enjoys the freedom of being sick?

Doesn’t being sick come with the perks of not having to be responsible for anything? Or being able to tell people “I can’t”. Or having people serve me or express sympathy for me?

Obviously, I’m not suggesting anyone wants to be sick, I surely don’t! And as much as I hate not being able to live the life I once lived, being forced to unplug from the matrix isn’t an entirely horrible experience. The daily challenge for me now is to reinvent my life within the boundaries of my new condition and not just succumb to a victim and helpless mindset. 

I believe the question is powerful in that it makes us take ownership of our condition, we must choose to get well before we can be healed. 

v7 – Sir I have no one.

This stirs a couple thoughts. One, how sad! He has no friends, he has no community support. He has been left alone and forgotten for 38 years. He has nobody to show him compassion or mercy.

My church is doing a very intentional season of finding orphans and foster children new homes. How much these at-risk children need someone to show them compassion and assistance.

The second is, he didn’t respond to Jesus with “yes, I want to be healed”, he replied with the reason why he believes he hasn’t been healed. Maybe not an excuse, but it wasn’t a direct answer to Jesus’ question.

I’ve recognized this in myself, I think it comes from (within me anyway) from shame. I feel the need to explain why I make the choices I make or how I got in the situations I got in. Someone can ask me a simple question and I’ll give my resume’.

Why do I feel the need to explain (defend?) myself when I’m not even being accused?

Is this a place of my long-standing victim mentality that wants to constantly say “it’s not my fault”, when in reality, everything in my life since moving out of my parent’s house has been my choice, so everything is of “my doing”. 

What would it look like to truly take ownership and responsibility for everything in my life that was under my control, good and bad?

v8 – GET UP!

This hits home in ways.

What would it look like to “get up” emotionally, be to filled with gratitude instead of discontent, to be filled with hope instead of fear, to be filled with love instead of apathy?

How easy is it for me in my condition or situation to “stay in bed longer” (proverbially or actually) than is necessary, could I “get up” more often physically, press against my mental or emotional resistance that says “I can’t”?

 In what ways could I “get up” spiritually when God feels distant or disengaged from my life? Is that not an intentional pursuit on my part, especially in light of the fact that He promises to never leave us or forsake us?

v10 – The Jews…It is unlawful

Again, our journey into SOAP is meant to be personal. How do the attitudes, mindset, and culture 2000+ years ago affect me today? 

With this one, I recognize that because of my abusive childhood I was taught to live by “the law”. You break the rules you are punished, lived within them and you are accepted and maybe even get a glimpse of love.

Here, Jesus heals someone of a lifetime disability yet “the law” says He did a bad thing.

How much of my own self-worth or expectations are still governed by what some perceive as right or wrong instead of by what is motivated by grace-filled and compassionate love? 

Sometimes the world’s (or even religious) laws are to be broken in the name of love, compassion, rescue, redemption, restoration.

Have I stopped judging myself and others legalistically and instead see the world through the eyes of Christ?

V11 – Jesus told the man to get up, so he did. Chances are he was aware of “the law” also, so there might have been a concern that “if I pick this up I might get in trouble”.

We don’t know that, but I’m struck by the thought of what it would look like to be obedient and when others complain simply blame Jesus.

How often am I willing to do the Christ-like thing and when persecuted or ridiculed simply point to God and say “He told me to”? Obedience, obedience, obedience!

v13 – The man didn’t even know who Jesus was, all he knew is that he was healed. That was enough for him to obey Jesus when he told him to ‘break the law’ by picking up his mat.

Have I been rescued from my old life?

Aren’t I being made whole more and more each day?

Hasn’t God protected me my entire life from my insane years of active addictions and horrible decisions? 

Isn’t He providing strength each day, new wisdom over the years, and a promise of better days ahead and eternity with Him? 

Should not all of that be enough for my gratitude to overflow my borders and pour out into the world in the form of obedience, service, and sacrifice for His glory and not still be in pursuit of my comfort or pleasures?

v14 – Sin no more! If you do, something worse may (will?) happen.

This should terrify us all. There are many scripture verses that tell us our sin is at the root of all that ails us.

After salvation, our sin no longer holds the penalty of eternal death, but it very much gives Satan and his minions of pain and darkness to affect our lives.

My sin invites in “worse to happen to me”, why would I ever consider it an option ever again?

Amen


I don’t know about you guys, but this passage is packed with some of the most intense life-altering truths when I gut-level honest with myself.

The beauty is, God didn’t come to condemn so these really close-to-the-bone questions and exhortations are meant to grow us, not fill us with shame or condemnation.

This leads to the place of “what am I going to do with the gift of insight God has given me through His Word today?”

So, at the start of this blog, I challenge you with two questions.

Can you tell which verse I believe to be the most challenging in the bible?

For me, Jesus asking “do you want to be healed” digs so far down in my soul if I am being soul-searchingly honest with myself.

I have found in recovery ministry that “being the victim” is what serves us very well in keeping us locked in our attitudes and addictive mindsets.

Even if we stop using our drink/drug/food/shopping/gambling or other coping mechanis of choice, we still can believe that most of our life problems are everyone else’s fault and that we are helpless victims.

Being healed means I will need to take 100% accountability for my success and failures in life, and that can be SCARY!

Denial kills more people than any other cause in life (my opinion). A person who doesn’t believe he is sick, or that his illness (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) isn’t serious, will never ask for help. And if others offer to help, they will never take “the treatment” offered. (again, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual remedies)

What is “missing” in this translation and many other translations within this passage?

John 5:4 is missing!?!?

That blew me away!!! And I looked up several translations and it is missing in many of them. Some without a footnote even mentioning that it is missing.

How can that be?????

In the NIV, NLT, ESV, and others it is just not there. Here is the footnote from NIV

John 5:4 (NIV)

Footnotes: John 5:4 Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.

Many think all translations are sound, but here is an example of a profoundly good reason why we all should reference several versions when looking for biblical accuracy.

There is a big difference between the waters having healing power (the inference without verse 4) and that of an Angel stirring the water (actual verse 4).

So, did you get them both right?

Did you have a different verse in here that strikes a deeper chord in you than the one I picked? 

Today the message on my heart is gratitude, let’s go live as if God is truly good to us and our life in Him is sufficient.  ~Blessings in Christ

Posted in Addiction, alcohol, bible study, conviction, drugs, encouragement, God's story, gratitude, Jesus, love, my story, pornagraphy, S.O.A.P, Salvation, sex | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When A TODO List Becomes Toxic

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How To Extract Life-Changing Takeaways From Any Experience

Psalm 26:2 (AMP) Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my heart and my mind.

wisdom

If we are intentional of looking for it, God will always provide an epiphany – A Golden Takeaway from any significant experience in our life.

When that happens, it leads to a new set of options, choices that we can utilize in the future to grow and achieve greater levels of peace, wholeness, and connectedness to others, ourselves and God.

It is through a new awareness that we gain new perspectives.

When our patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors start to make sense we can then choose to change (or more accurately surrender our dependence on) the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that no longer serve us well.

What follows is the way in which I “work things out”.

It is how I attempt to discern “what is God trying to tell me here” and “what I am supposed to do with it”.

So what do you say, you interested? Great, let’s do this!


The Process of Processing 

  1. What happened (the situation)?
  2. What were my motivations, emotions, and spiritual condition (called States)?
  3. What does God want to reveal (post-reflection)
  4. How have my new perspectives and awarenesses changed (take-away)
  5. What can I do differently next time (action plan)

What follows is an example of how that exact process plays out for me. This is a very real situation that just slammed into me within the last 48 hours.

It is a compare and contrast from two similar events in my life that had polar opposites driving forces and outcomes, and the emerging awareness has the potential to be life-changing for me.

And who knows, maybe for someone else?

There is a ton of backstory and details to these events and my mindsets, emotions and spiritual state in each are complex, but my new goal is this:

LESS IS MORE – NO MORE 6000 WORD BLOGS!!!  (you’re welcome)

Let’s see how I do with that. (I’m already at 300 ugh!. 

I guess you could say you know you are a writer when you have to limit the number of words you type instead of struggling to reach a goal. Totally off-topic there, this isn’t helping!

CASE STUDY – THE TWO TRIPS


STEP ONE – What Happened

This all revolves around 2 separate road trips that I’ve taken in the last year. I’ll call them Trip #1 and Trip #2 (creative eh)

TRIP #1

This took place soon after I first got sick when I was forced into a medical leave of absence over a year ago.

I first drove to meet a friend and we camped for a few days but instead of turning south from the campground to go back home, I ended up turning north on an impulse to just “see where it leads”.

It was a spectacular 10-day journey of prayer, journaling, sight-seeing and soul-searching throughout the coastal areas and mountains of Central and Northern California, complete with an endless stream of Divine Coincidences

TRIP #2

This happened yesterday, nearly a year after the first trip; and although the original intent (on some level) was similar to trip #1, the outcomes couldn’t have been more radically different in every aspect.

This trip started out as me just wanting to clear my head (similar to trip #1).

But what manifested as was an 860-mile round-trip from Los Angeles to Cedar City Utah in a 22-hour waking nightmare.

Same person, same car, same intent/desire, but insanely different experiences.

Why did they turn so different?

Gratefully God can work with those kinds of questions!

Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” [my emphasis]

STEP TWO – What Were My Mental, Emotional, Spiritual & Physical States

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have found it critically important when trying to discern why things go right and why things go wrong, what part of it was “up to me?”

It comes down to self-awareness which is never intuitive. And it is likely the most critical life-skill that is never taught. 

95% of our thoughts, feeling and actions are driven subconsciously from our mind/body past experiences.

It’s an auto-pilot and without recognizing the survival forces at work (fight or flight response) can drive us to live reactionary lives. We say, do and feel things not based on current realities but largely on past “take-aways”.

So I always start by asking myself: What were my “states” before and during the encounter?


TRIP #1

Mental – I believe I was clear-headed. I had a sense of adventure, of wanting to explore. I was feeling like I was a free spirit who could do whatever I wanted (which is not normal for me).

Emotional – I was in a pretty good place. I was apprehensive about the impulsiveness of the decision but I was expecting a really neat experience, even though I had no idea what to expect.

Physical – My health condition was a serious consideration, but I theorized that laying in a hammock on the beach watching a beautiful fire-red sunset was better than laying in bed at home. So I was alert to my physical limitations and believed this was a reasonable act self-care. 

Spiritual – Here is the secret sauce. Every step of the way from the second I turned my car north away from the direction of home, I took a stance of nearly excited faith. “This is crazy Lord, but I trust you”. 

I won’t share all of the DIVINE MIRACLES that took place on trip #1 but the very first one will blow your mind, at least it still does mine.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I drove north wanting to go to Big Sur campground along Highway 1 in Central California. It is the exact place where I gave my life to Christ some 8 years before then and being that I wanted “get with God” on this trip, where better to go?

big-sur

The problem is, Limekiln Campground is a small-ish campground in one of the most spectacular regions of the California Coastline, and reservations are made a year in advance. You NEVER just drive up there expecting a spot. And this place is remote, if camping isn’t available here you might be homeless. No cell service, and no services for many miles.

What I was doing was CRAZY. Yet this was a different kind of crazy in this trip versus trip #2 as you will soon see.

So what happened? I went there on faith. And long story short, not only was I ultimately able to get a spot in Limekiln Campground, the ONLY spot available was the EXACT SPOT that I gave my life to Christ at 7 years earlier.

That is an impossible outcome, but easy for God. And the entire trip went that way.

Every campground was “impossible to get into” yet by some miracle, I got in… for 10 days straight hopping from campground to campground I was met with miracle after miracle.


TRIP #2

Mental – The premise of this trip was a trainwreck from the beginning. If you’ve been following my blog in the last week or so you know my counselor has been uncorking some childhood trauma stuff. I haven’t wanted to go there but I also believe God said: “you are ready”. So I’ve gone fearfully but willingly.

On this day I was having a really rough time, I was stuck ruminating on past events, and as they say, what you feed grows. And this was feeding my emotions.

Emotional – Again, trainwreck. What was uncovered was long deep and buried shame, self-hatred, and rage toward people who have treated me terribly throughout my life and I just “let them do it”. I’ve been passive, insecure and fearful all my life but most of the vile of poison what outside of my awareness in the 95% subconscious fight-or-flight regions of my brain. Fight or flight was alive and well this day!

Physical – I was not healthy. I hadn’t been sleeping well the last few nights and with the emotional exhaustion, my body was not doing well. But I was also filled with fight-or-flight chemical flood as the pain and anger escalated throughout the day. I was worn, and my bed would have been the safest place for me, but I had to run.

Spiritual – Here is where I believe the takeaways are going to come from. I’m somewhat processing this live right now as I type this so this is an organic exercise. So I was in prayer all day, but the emotional state and ruminating thoughts seemed stuck. My motivation on this trip was not “I’m moving towards God”, it was “I’m running from this house”.

Were there Divine Appointments?

I believe there were Divine Appointments on this trip also, but many different kinds. I left at 5pm physically worn and drove with no direction from God, instead just “where do I feel like going”. I drove to the mountains and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to the desert and didn’t “feel” better so I drove to Las Vegas and still didn’t “feel” better so I kept driving east until 2am, complete exhausted and nearly hallucinating on the road.

Again, what I was doing was CRAZY, but this time truly cray-cray!!

no hotels

One of the reasons I kept driving, there were no hotels available for hundreds of miles!

And when I finally stopped driving out of necessity? Still no hotels! I ended up sleeping near a dumpster behind a restaurant in my car in 37-degree temperature for only 3.5 hours. When I woke up I had the (rational) thought, “what the hell am I doing here” and pointed home and started driving.

I believe the Divine Appointment was that there were no Divine Appointments. This was all about me and my feelings and God wasn’t going to bless this trip. He kept me alive, but my entire experience was miserable.


STEP THREE – What Does God Want to Reveal?

I could have just had the thought, the first trip was great and the second trip sucked and leave it at that.

I’m very intentional in my prayer life, and I know and expect that when I go to God with feelings of hurt and confusion that He wants to give me peace and rest through the types of comfort and revelation that only He can provide.

So when I asked God “what the hell was that about?” (yeah, we have a pretty casual dialect, He gets me) He was quick to respond.

Clearly, the Divine Appointments were off the charts different. In the first, I met with blue skies and blessings beyond measure. But trip 2 was dark and met with resistance and tension the entire time.

This was my Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde struggle that I battle with, and they each took their own version of their perfect trip.

Obviously, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, I was not the same person on both trips.

God was reminding me that my battle is not with “unfair or difficult circumstances”, it is always within myself.

STEP FOUR – The Perspective Shift

So what is my take-away?

Before making any decisions in life I have to make sure that The Four States are in order first. If any is not in balance, then getting them there becomes my highest priority at that exact moment. It will overshadow everything I do if I don’t.

And if all four are out at the same time, I’m at grave risk of making decisions that can physically or emotionally harm myself or others. It is not a rational place!

In the case of mental or physical illness (depression, chronic illness, etc…) I do not need to make excuses or feel guilty when saying “I can’t”.

If people don’t understand that I am doing what I have to do for me and are disappointed and take it personally, then that’s on them and not on me.

It comes down to self-care. What were my states?

Trip #1 – clarity of thoughts, emotionally stable, physically aware of self-care boundaries and spiritually consulting and trusting God with every risk-filled decision. This trip took place during the daytime – in the Light

Trip #2 – ruminating thoughts, emotionally unstable, physically exhausted and spiritually disconnected from God (and therefore susceptible to Satan’s influence on my decision-making processes). This trip was overnight – in the Darkness

If I had been more SELF-AWARE (and especially God aware) I would have realized that my desire to re-experience last year’s trip, albeit good, was entirely impossible in my current condition.

Not just one, but all four States were extremely out of balance and I should not have been on the road in the first place. Saved by Grace for sure!!

STEP FIVE – The New Action Plan

  1. SELF CARE MUST TAKE PRIORITY
    • I should not tackle any activity or make a critical decision if all 4 states aren’t well balanced. 
    • I shouldn’t feel guilty or compelled to meet other’s expectations if my 4 states aren’t well balanced.
  2. IF I AM STUCK IN ANY STATE – ASK FOR HELP!
    • Spiritual – find someone to pray with me
    • Physical – find someone to help me
    • Emotional – find someone who cares enough to sit with me in it
    • Mental – find someone to process with me

As obvious as those may seem, I don’t do them well, and I don’t do them consistently.

In fact, this whole exercise has given me a greater perspective of how when I let my emotions guide me I will almost always make bad choices.

I’ve been led by my emotions (mostly fear and pride) my entire life, and driven by a sense of shame and obligation in selecting the things I will do in life.

In many cases, they may have “looked like” love, but they were in fact just manipulations so I “looked good” to others so I could hopefully “feel good” about myself. (hard to admit that)

I believe this is what God talks about when He talks about the condition of our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Well, what do you think?

2600 words are better than 6,000. But I still feel like I need to find a way to get to the point in smaller bites. I’ll keep trying 🙂

The problem is, there is a lot packed in there today. The beauty of this is, it’s nothing more than trying to explain the process of Sanctification, which is a combination of our willingness and God’s timetable.

So in essence, we are always right where we are supposed to be in our unique journey of redemption!

My message seems to be about revealing the places of darkness where the enemy of our souls has tricked us into believing things about ourselves, others and God that don’t serve, us, Him or others well.

Through greater self-awareness, we can become stewards of our own inner and outer selves and thereby serve God and others with a pure heart where everyone wins.

For those of us who have experienced childhood trauma or neglect, the process of self-care is not intuitive. In fact, the road ahead is hard.

But both God and Science agree: we can be transformed by the renewal of our mind!

Amen!!

Posted in faith, God's story, hope, love, my story, Nikaos, Nikaos.net, Recovery, The Life Mastery Project | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We pause for a short intermission

I just wanted to pop in and say hi.

If you’ve been following you know I’ve been sharing a bit more raw and exposed stuff from my childhood, you can thank God for that as I invited him into that space and asked him to show where I was still hurting. He is definitely faithful.

Yesterday morning the counseling sessions continued to open Pandora’s box and pull out more nuggets that have been long tucked away. I was bouncing off the walls yesterday afternoon and left the house at 5 PM for a short drive to clear my head.

I ended up driving from Los Angeles to Utah, rolled in there at 2:30 AM this morning, slept in my car for 3.5 hours in 37 degree temps, woke up 6am and asked myself what the heck am I doing and drove straight home.

860 miles round-trip in 22 hours on three hours sleep for no good reason while having a chronic illness that increases fatigue exponentially… not my brightest day.

But I did get some “everyday parables”, and likely another episode on “Can Christians be depressed” series, but not today! I just got home and I need a shower and a 12hr nap.

So for now I just wanted to say and that I’m grateful to be home safe. It may not have been an epic journey but it sure was a big one crammed in a very small window.

Prayers you all are having a blessed day!

G

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Everyday Parables – The Old Hammock

Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”


This photo of Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A friend of mine and I met one day just to connect and chat, pray and enjoy some good fellowship.

At one point he randomly said, I want to buy a hammock.

We small-talked about camping and the different kind of hammocks available for a while and as we were chatting, I had this overwhelming thought come to mind:

How much is our faith like a hammock, even if we’ve had it for a long time and we can see holes where our faith is imperfect, it can still support our weight, and it will always be the best place for us to find peace and rest. 

His reply: “You know George, sometimes a hammock is just a hammock”.

My reply: “not for me it isn’t, everything has a deeper meaning if you’re looking for it”

So, don’t worry about the condition of your hammock, just make sure to take advantage of it often and spend time basking in the comfort it provides.

Our faith is meant for us to use much more than we often do.

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