Shortly after I started dating the girl who is now my wife, I had my first ever panic attack. I had a dream that I lost my affections for her, broke up with her, ruined her life, and the entire church at which I met her hated me. I awoke covered in sweat, gasping for breath, and nearly blacked out. It was horrible. If you have, or have ever had, panic attacks, you have my sympathy. This was the first of two such panic attacks, both stimulated by nightmares, and they were high-frequency points in a season of my life stricken with fear. As anyone struggling with fear would do, I began a search for answers and solutions – why am I so afraid, and how do I deal with it?
A different version of this article originally appeared on my church’s blog. Due to a friend’s recent critique, I’ve made a significant enough update to warrant reposting here. You can view part 2 here.
“Work-life balance” is a business-world buzzword that has seen its fair share of attention in the blogosphere. In basic terms, it’s the idea that a person needs to be careful not to spend so much time at work that he has no life. It’s received so much attention due to significant efforts to explain and remedy something of an epidemic of burnout among people in high-level, high-pressure positions throughout the country. Of course, even those of us at the bottom of the totem pole know what burnout feels like, and we know these people are on to something. If you have no life outside of work, then you never refresh, recharge, recoup, and something is going to give.
Are you nearsighted or farsighted? Yes, that is a metaphorical question. But we as humans tend to have regular experiences of perspective loss. We do this in moments of anger, of anxiety, of stress. We do this when we suffer, when we’re tired, when we’re overwhelmed. And sometimes we do this when we assess our sin. Some of us tend to be nearsighted and see our sin only in light of its immediate consequences. Others of us look at our sin and immediately see how seven years down the road it will lead to an affair or an abusive household or an ice-cold relationship or financial ruin or…fill in the blank.
Recently, a friend of mine posted the following question on Facebook:
Talk to me y’all. When it comes to a romantic relationship (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancé/fiancée, husband/wife), is love a feeling, a choice, both or neither?
I personally believe it is a choice. I think a lot of people do mistake feelings for love as well. However, we should not ignore those feelings, just correctly interpret them. What do you think?
Here is my reply:
This past Sunday my pastor preached on John 5 when Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Not surprisingly, Jesus, in doing good, stirs up trouble for himself. First, he heals on the Sabbath, which upsets the Pharisees, who see this as breaking the Sabbath. Second, he asserts that he is God (cf. v 17-18), which also upsets the Pharisees. I want to focus on the first issue, because it is in fulfilling the Sabbath that Jesus demonstrates that he truly is who he claims to be.
When Jesus says in v 17 that he is doing God’s work, he is telling us that doing good on the Sabbath is not breaking the Sabbath but is actually the truest expression of the Sabbath. Rest as relief from the effects of the fall (e.g., sin and sickness) is what the Sabbath is all about. Hence Jesus says, “my Father has been working until now.” Jesus says deliverance from affliction and sin is the work God is doing as an expression of the Sabbath, and, therefore, he is doing the same. Our hope is that Christ will complete this work of redemption, and we will enter into that full and final rest in glory.
I don’t like to feel needy. I don’t like it when life squeezes all the comfort and confidence out of me that I’ve come to rely on from day to day. I don’t like pain. My pastor recently preached on John 4, where we are introduced to a desperate man, in a lot of pain, who wasn’t afraid to confess his need.
I’ve been remiss in sharing the articles I’m posting on my church’s blog. Here is some application from a sermon on Psalm 23. It’s titled, The Shepherd Leads, and it addresses God’s commitment to lead us all the way down the path of righteousness into his presence, where there is fullness of joy.
Click here to take a look.
I’m posting again for my church’s Apply the Word series. Below is an excerpt from my post and a link to the full article.
One of the questions that comes up any time we address the need for change is that of “How? How do I get from where I am to where I should be?” This Sunday, Benny (my pastor) preached from Psalm 131 on moving from anxious, harried, and haughty to peaceful and content in Christ.
I recently had the opportunity to preach at my church, and this is the message God put on my hear to share. I show from Psalm 63 that we, the church, have every reason to expect God to show us his power and glory when we seek him both in our corporate gatherings and in private prayer. And I show that this expectation is not based on us, but is based on God’s grace in Jesus Christ. I pray this message blesses you.
Click here to access the sermon on my church’s website. The Psalm is below for reference.
“Your most arduous weeping and groaning can be just as pleasing to God as your loudest praise.”
“When we face pain and difficulties in life, it can be tempting to feel alone, abandoned to our trouble. Indeed, one of the key elements of fear and anxiety is the feeling that we are facing our threat alone.”
I like to control my money. Well, what I mean is, I can be controlling with money. Hmm, I guess what I’m saying is when it comes to money, I have control issues – just ask my wife. I want to be present at every shopping trip and to oversee the selection of every item to ensure we purchase nothing that I deem superfluous or wasteful. I don’t believe in “treats.” I like the bare minimum, and I want her to like it, too. I generally don’t give in to these invasive inclinations, because I also want my wife to be happy – especially with me. But I do instigate conflicts over spending on small things that, to me, represent a bigger problem. Through all of it I drive my (very gracious) wife crazy, as I try not to suffocate her with my spending idiosyncrasies. I have a control problem. Why?
Imagine someone who so feels they have failed at life that they escape the shame of the real world by immersing themselves in a virtual one (where there is some measure of success, relational pleasure, community, and so on). Imagine how this person’s consciousness of this ongoing neglect of responsibility only compounds the shame and guilt. And then imagine the impact of using insult to try to get him to stop playing his “stupid, childish” games (not an uncommon approach). This is not helpful. This is not the gospel way of applying grace and truth through kindness (Rom. 2:4), and it ignores the need to get to know people well if you are to be helpful to them.
In my last article, I presented a paradigm for understanding fantasy-addiction: the impulse towards pleasure over displeasure is the unifying theme between addicts and non-addicts. The difference is a matter of degree. There is no temptation that is not common to man (1 Cor. 10:13).