Halt: Four Ways to Avoid a Panic Attack

Have you ever felt so afraid you were unable to breathe?  Have the worries and busyness of this world ever weighed heavily on your mind?  Does Satan really ever attack you in your weak spots (those things we worry most about) to try to destroy your joy?

A few months ago, after an exceedingly hard week both physically and emotionally, I experienced a panic attack in which I could not breathe, felt like I was choking, and my heart was filled with fear. I paced the house, moved from my comfortable bed to the couch, and on to an upstairs bedroom. Still restless, I drank a glass of milk, read my Bible, repeated verses aloud, but nothing seemed to help. Fear gripped at my heart, telling me I was incapable of doing anything.  After about three hours of what felt like wrestling with Satan, and finally convinced that I would just quit everything in which I was involved when morning came, sleep finally overtook me.

The next morning, with the dawning of day, the thought came that this might have been an attack from the Deceiver, the Father of Lies, or Satan; but in the darkness of night I was unable to drive him away. With daylight came ease of mind, peace, and strength from the truth of scripture that I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13)  and refreshment in the promises of His word and deliverance from all my fears (Psalms 34:4), (Psalms 34:7)  I realized how very small from God’s perspective my worries really were and that he was in control of it all. (Psalm 103:19)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.

 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. Psalms 91:1-6

Dr. Charles Stanley, from In Touch Ministries, has quoted four ways to keep ourselves from getting to the point of being overwhelmed. He used the acronym HALT:

  • H- Don’t let yourself get too hungry, take care of your physical body.
  • A- Don’t let yourself get too angry,  or emotionally distraught,
  • L- Don’t let yourself get too lonely,
  • T-  Don’t let yourself get too tired.

Even though I may never know if a spiritual battle was actually going on during my restless night (Ephesians 6:12),  these things I do know:

  • God, the Creator, and great Shepherd (Psalm 23) is able to take care of all of our needs, whether it be physical, financial, emotional, relational or otherwise.
  • We are not to fear.  Dr Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, says there are 365 verses in the Bible instructing us to not fear.  (God knew there are times I would need one for every day!)

 Do not fear, do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. Isaiah 41:10

About the Writer:
Beverly has been an educator, administrator, educational sales representative, Sunday school teacher, and mentor; but most importantly is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing Christ by serving as Coordinator for Yada Yada.

Advertisements

God’s Goody Goody

Margery Meanwell is thought to be the original (and fictitious) goody goody. According to the British Library, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes is one of the most important children’s books of the 18th century. It tells the story of two orphans, Margery Meanwell and her brother Tommy, and their escape from poverty. Dressed in rags and having only one shoe, Margery is given two shoes by a charitable gentleman. Through hard work she becomes a schoolmistress before making a good impression on the local landowner and marrying him. She inherits his wealth when she is widowed and is granted a large dowry from her brother who has also acquired great wealth in his foreign pursuits. Margery’s wealth enables her to help the poor just as she herself had been helped. She remains adamant that money is to be used for the good of others less fortunate than oneself, not for personal benefit.

Unfortunately, as I know from personal playground experience, the expression goody two-shoes is not usually used as a compliment. The admirable pursuit of the good of another has come to mean something smug and self-righteous — more often than not, a way to heckle a playmate.

To many, good is grey — an ever-shifting concept fluctuating between black and white, depending on the circumstances. For a time I pursued the path of the “healing arts” and spiritualism. During that season of my life, I saw much as grey, but more than that, I saw black as white and white as black. However, there really is no “good” definition for goodness beyond being synonymous with the nature of Christ. Test your definition of goodness against God’s Word. If it’s NOT what God calls good, it will probably be more like what the spirit of the anti-Christ calls good and therefore:

  • it cannot be measured by how closely it resembles the person and actions of Christ
  • it is often in opposition to God’s blueprint for His children or His standard of righteousness
  • it sounds very appealing, because it “feels” good
  • it involves more conclusions that are “right in my own eyes,” rather than “right in God’s eyes”
  • it is based on the argument that an individual is innately “good” rather than innately “sinful”
  • it breeds rebellion against God rather than submission to Him
  • as right as it looks, it eventually leads to destruction

For those of us who search for remnants of Eden and God’s good creation here on earth, it’s easy to want to downplay the negative effects that sin has on each one of us and on the earth itself; however, let it be known: God alone is good (Mark 10:18).

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them. Ephesians 5:6-11

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

I’m One of the Others

“Some people are naturally good, you know, and others are not. I’m one of the others. Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect.”
~ “Anne of Green Gables” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

Like my favorite red-headed literary heroine, “Anne with an ‘e,’” I’m “one of the others.” I struggle with mastering both goodness AND geometry! Anne would be relieved to hear what Jesus said about being “naturally” good. In Luke chapter 18:19, Jesus declared, “No one is good except God alone.” Only God is inherently, completely, and, by His very nature, good.

Jesus very clearly states his oneness with God in John 10:30: “I and my Father are one.” In John 14:9, Jesus says, “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Anything we know about Jesus is true of God, and anything we know about God is true of Jesus.

The whole of Scripture points to the goodness of God, and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Here are two of many descriptions of God’s goodness:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing . . . Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life  . . .  Psalm 23:1:6 (NIV)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

In contrast, we read of our lack of goodness in Romans 3:12: “…there is no one who does good, not even one.” Thank goodness, (pun intended), we aren’t left to our own resources.

Because Jesus is God and has all the attributes of God, anything God has given to Jesus can be given to me, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, in John 16:15, “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (NIV)

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

God’s goodness is mine through the gift of His Son, Jesus, the Only One who truly is “naturally” good.

About the Writer:
Nan is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodness, the Nebulous Fruit

“You’re a good person.” I’ve heard those words so many times, and every time I want to scrunch up my eyes and respond with a resounding “Huh???” Goodness has always been so nebulous to me. Even the definition of the word is nebulous. So, what is a concrete person like me to make of the word?

When I think of goodness, I think of God’s goodness:

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

I think of this verse in Psalm 23:

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

I experience the goodness of God every single day, but how does that goodness translate to my relationships with others? I don’t see myself as inherently good. I’m just trying to show the world how much Jesus loves me, one moment at a time.  I wrestled with this one for a long time. Writing comes easy for me, and yet I’ve spent weeks thinking and praying about this one with nothing. Crickets.

But then I realized I was taking the wrong approach. I had this idea that the fruit of the Spirit meant I had to be good. That’s not it. I’m just here to show others the goodness of God. The best way I can do that is by letting his Spirit show up in my daily life, bearing the fruit we call goodness.

Ok great, now what does that look like? When I asked God that question, He gave me Psalm 27:13

I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. NIV

Our Pastor frequently reminds us that we are the salt of the Earth.  God sent us here to show his love in such a way that others will come to know Him.  Isn’t that all we can do?  So what does goodness look like in practical action? When it’s not nebulous but more concrete, it’s those things we do when no one is watching.

It’s allowing someone to go ahead of me in traffic. It’s holding back criticism. It’s feeding a stray dog, picking trash out of the park, helping someone on the street. It’s saying “thank you” at work, or lending an ear when someone is frustrated. It’s understanding that another person’s frustration isn’t personal and sometimes she needs love. It’s doing the dishes or taking out the trash when it isn’t my turn.  It’s serving at church and in the community. It’s donating to charity. It’s setting aside pride. It’s giving my time.

Goodness is no one thing, but it’s a pervasive attitude that allows God to shine through us so He may be glorified.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

 

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

Good Enough

Many times when we say the word “good”,  we associate it with term “adequate”, as in the saying, “That’s good enough.” In the English language we even use the word “good” as a comparative adjective in the series: good, better, best. In that series the word “good” is the term used for the lowest rank. But did you know that, in the Bible, the word “good” or “goodness” is actually referring to perfection? Our Father in Heaven is a good Father. He is the absolute standard of perfection and is blameless. The term “goodness” is part of His very nature.

Consider this:  He desires that not one of us should perish but spend eternity with Him.  For that reason He chases us, He gave His life for us, and, with His endless mercies He has shown us His love.  Even though we are imperfect and deserve nothing but to be punished and to drown in our constant sin, He comes after us, calling us back home to Him where we find safety and endless pleasures in His love.

Why then do we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough for Him? On the contrary, He never once asks that of us. Actually, He only asks for us to accept His goodness and let that be enough.  He knows that we will never be good enough (perfect) for Him, and that is why He, through His son Jesus Christ, paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave His life for us. Jesus Christ took our place on the cross and experienced the punishment for our sin. And, when we say “We’re not good enough to have a relationship with God” we are actually saying, “Jesus sacrifice was not enough for my sin.”

 . . .  As for our transgressions, You forgive them. How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. Psalm 65:3b-4

Stop telling Jesus Christ that what He did on the cross wasn’t good enough. Instead, run to Him where you will find that Jesus Christ is good enough.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and has another one on the way. She occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.