"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sleeping With the Enemy

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

"sleeping with the enemy"

In 1991 Julia Roberts starred in a psychological thriller entitled sleeping with the enemy. The film was based on a 1987 novel (of the same name) written by Nancy Price. Roberts plays a woman who escapes from her abusive, obsessive husband from there beautiful home in Cape Cod to Cedar Falls, Iowa where she captures the attention of a kindly college drama teacher.

Julia Robert's husband is charming, handsome and wealthy. He is also possessive, abusive and controlling, who has also fallen victim to OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder). All of this proves to be too much for Roberts as she unsuccessfully tries to live up to her husband's unrealistic standards and buckles under the strain. In one early scene Martin believes Laura has been flirting with an attractive neighbor, and he physically assaults her as punishment. The abuse is an ongoing routine, which began immediately after their wedding. 

At this point, serious fear begins to take over her life.

As the movie moves forward it reveals to the viewer that Roberts has to fake her own death in an attempt to escape her nightmarish marriage, but discovers it is impossible to elude her controlling husband. 

In the end, the only way she can eliminate her fear is to kill her husband in self defense and go on with her life.

And though this silver screen depiction is an extreme, but sadly too often of a real life reality, example of how debilitating and destructive fear can be in one's life, this is something everyone can identify with, as we all wrestle with fear from time to time in our lives

The good thing is we are not alone.

The Bible is replete, and is a strong reminder, that many people struggled with fear. God's word shares with us that the people that were plagued with fear were leaders, kings, warriors, moms & dads alike. The good news is that God spoke to them in the midst of their struggle; he will speak to us too.

"All we have to fear is fear itself"
-Winston Churchill

The Source of our FEAR.

As I stated earlier, we are not alone in our struggle with fear. The top five fears that people profess to have read like a familiar guest list: (5) Loneliness, (4) Ridicule, (3) Rejection, (2) Death, (1) Failure.

Fear is a constant companion for many and it often rears its ugly head in marriages, finances, parenting, careers, and yes, even in our spiritual journey.

One of the toughest things to do in our lives is to face our fears. 

Our fears can be anything and everything. They can be debilitating and relentless; they can destroy us. I have found that fear predominately and profoundly affect eight areas:

1. Fear stifles our thinking.
2. Creates indecisiveness.
3. Hinders our achievement.
4. Affects self confidence.
5. Affect our emotional health and well being.
6. Affects our relationships.
7. Creates panic.
8. Causes doubt.

I find that when I evaluate my fear and focus upon God's sovereignty and His providential hand he provides a peace that passes all, and any, understanding. There are two verses that remind me of his true power and protection in every situation.

"The Lord has made the heaven his throne, from there he rules everything."
-Psalm 103:19

"...His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He has the power to do as he pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop him or challenge him, saying, 'What do you mean by doing these things'?"
-Daniel 4:34-35

In the end, either you believe those verses or you don't.

Fear equals bondage and enslavement.

One of the awful outcomes of fear is that it can be reinforced and become stronger over time. It is said; "those who anger you control you". The same can be said about fear. Anything that causes us fear has the ability to control us. 

We have to come to the realization that anything that has the ability to control us that the control takes place in the deep regions of our mind, and to eliminate the control that a certain fear has in our life we must first change the way we think.

Romans 12:2 states this:

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Scriptures like the one above, and Philippians 4:4-8, support, and admonish, us to unlearn the destructive pattern of thinking in our mind & relearn God's pattern of thinking for our lives. For this to happen we need to challenge ourselves to not just read the scripture, but to meditate on it, running it over and over in our minds. 

In there lies the BIG difference and the greatest opportunity for a "game changer" in how we think, and live, our lives.

When we begin to understand fear we soon realize that "FEAR" is one of Satan's top strategies to derail our lives. Fear manifests itself in many ways, and in many different areas, in our lives, but the source is singular; Satan is the source of all our fears. 

Remember, Satan is the source.

The Structure of our FEAR.

In order to make progress in the area of fear we have to have a better understanding of fear and its genesis. We need to begin to acknowledge the source, Satan, and grow in our knowledge concerning the structure of fear.

In understanding the structure of fear we first must discuss the amygdala.

The amygdala (Latin, corpus amygdaloideum) is an almond-shape set of neurons located deep in the brain's medial temporal lobe. The amygdala plays a key role in the processing of emotions and is widely viewed as the region where the "fight or flight" phenomenon is initiated.  

"The amygdala has up to 22 distinct regions and only two so far have been clearly implicated in fear (2). The flight and fear responses may be obtained from the rostral regions of the amygdala, including the lateral nucleus, the periamygdaloid area, and the central nucleus. Defense or aggressive reactions could be obtained from the medial and caudal aspects of the amygdala (4). These reactions have been observed by the selective stimulation of amygdaloid nuclei in laboratory animals." 

An amygdala that doesn't function properly can lead to such troubling conditions as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias, causing damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance.

In short, and as I mentioned earlier, fear is a thief that steals our peace and robs us of a good future. Remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Satan may be the source, but God is the solution. He planed it that way.

Finally, the bible shares with us many stories where fear was the main character; Army of Israel vs. Goliath (1 Samuel 17:10-11 & 21-24 - read the entire chapter), The 12 Spies (Joshua 14:7-8) and Jesus Walks on Water (Matthew 14:27-34) to name a few.

Let God aid you in erasing your fears.

Few people were more familiar with fear than David. Just reading the story of David's life is enough to scare any reader. And with all that it was the words of David in Psalm 27:1 that can provide us with so much comfort:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?"

God doesn't want us to live in fear. He wants us to put our faith in Him.

Webster defines faith as the confidence or trust in a person or thing. The bible states in Hebrews 17:1; "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." and in 2 Corinthians 5:7; "We live by faith, not by sight."

Our confidence should be centered around God; our faith firmly rooted in what can't be seen.

I have found that walking in faith and not in fear has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Fear has a funny way of crippling us mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

One guiding principle we must carry with us throughout our lives is that fear is inevitable; faith is a choice.

Below is what I've found walking in faith to look like:

1. Focus on God not your circumstance. The circumstance is there for a reason. It is there to teach you something. God is there to let you know what that teachable lesson is.

2. Face your fears. (Phil 4:6...look it up.) 
"Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the lord almighty." 
-Isaiah 8:12-13 

3. Recognize and identify where the doubt and fear is coming from. Once you do that know in your heart that God is greater than anything that is the reason for your doubt and fear.

4. Ask yourself if God has ever failed you once you gave your life to him? The answer is no. Not getting what we want or failure in a certain area is not confirmation that God didn't answer our prayer or that he didn't rescue us. He just decided in infinite wisdom to not give us what we wanted. He knows what is best; we don't.

5. Does God promise to meet the believers need? The answer is yes. Please read Matthew 6:25-34 again. Read it every day for thirty days straight and monitor how your perspective will change during those thirty days.

6. His Holy Spirit will enable me to endure anything.

7. He promised to neither leave me nor forsake me. Hebrews 13:5 states; "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you."

8. Feed upon His word.

9. Faithfully obey his commandments

10. Forge ahead. In Joshua 1:6 God spoke to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous" he commanded. We would all do well to heed that advice every day. Remember, "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

Break free today!

Begin today to be strong, and courageous, and patiently wait and watch as "the" mighty force comes to your aid. Decide today to not sleep with the enemy for another night. Stake your claim today and overcome your fears. 

Remember to begin, decide and claim today.

Think about your life and the fears you're facing. And then, with God's protective hand, climb out of the boat of fear and begin to swim in the waters of faith. 

Do this and you will begin to live life more powerfully; more freely.

sbb 9.10.12

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