Tag Archives: Growth

FEARLESS: WEEK #3

On the first day of school, in my first-grade year, we were arranging the alphabet backwards with blocks. It was right after lunch and I started to feel an overwhelming fear. I had night terrors and panic attacks before this, but nothing that happened in a public setting. My heart started pounding, my mind began to race, I literally started shaking. I distinctly remember staring at the door and wondering if I could get to it before the teacher could stop me.

Well, the teacher didn’t even see me. I made it to the door, opened it, and I started running. I ran a little over a mile towards my house. In fact, I made it a few houses down from mine. By that time the school had notified my mom who was waiting outside for me. I burst in to tears as my mind caught up with what my body had done.

In the summer of my seventh-grade year a similar event happened. This time I walked home two miles in the dark. Somehow, being at a birthday party with thirty other pre-teens was scarier than walking across town alone.

Fast forward ten years, a decade filled with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. I am in my twenties and at a party that I tried to avoid in the first place. Things were going ok, listening to music, joking with friends, and then I started to experience the same old fear. I had matured enough to not simply burst out the door and run home. I politely excused myself, and told the woman I was with that we needed to leave. We went for a long drive until the fear passed.

I did things like that so often in my early adult life that a few of my friends thought I must have a secret life. One asked if I had a child at home, because I was always leaving early or disappearing. Another wondered if I “worked for the FBI or something like that.” I never had a problem fitting in or making friends, but I had a very difficult time building deep relationships.

Fear controlled all my decisions even if it wasn’t present at the time.

I was the master of avoidance.

Fear is a natural response to a dangerous situation. When the brain senses danger it floods the body with adrenaline. The heart rate increases, breathing becomes rapid, and pupils will begin to dilate. Blood starts flowing into large muscles in the extremities, preparing the person to take action. All of this can happen in a matter of a seconds. This is an amazing gift. It empowers us to fight for our lives, or run for safety.

There are different reasons for high anxiety and panic attacks. The reasons, be they stress, loss of a loved one, chemical imbalances, or other medicals conditions all trigger the same reaction that an actual threatening situation would bring about. Your personality type, your diet, your overall health, and more variables can all play a part in the frequency and intensity of anxious episodes. There are many causes for irrational anxiety, that is why there are many beneficial treatments. As I said in week two, the goal is for you to find what works for you. But I do believe the methods shared in this series can help anyone and for many will lead to conquering irrational fear.

Here are things we should acknowledge, actions we should take (both from last week), along with some attitudes we should adopt.

Acknowledge these ideas when fear shows up.

  • Allow the temporary emotion and physical results of fear.
  • Accept that they can’t hurt you.
  • Don’t blame yourself or feel guilty.
  • Realize millions of people have felt like this.
  • Most people who struggle with fear are highly intelligent and incredibly creative.

Actions to take when fear shows up:

  • Set your attitude to “fear is present, I accept it.”
  • Call fear’s bluff, say to yourself “I won’t fear the fear.”
  • Use the energy, burn the extra fuel, take a walk or a similar activity.
  • Pick one small thing to accomplish, then find another.
  • Engage in what is around you, co-workers, friends, read or study.

Attitudes to adopt:

  • Be patient, you will have a set-back.
  • Know that small accomplishments snowball over time.
  • Understand change can be good.
  • Problems are opportunities to grow.
  • Let “What If” thinking work for you.

To elaborate on these attitudes.

Be patient with yourself, when you begin to let fear be present and you push through it, you will have success, and a couple times you will have a set-back. Show grace to yourself. This is the time to re-double your resolve to conquer the fear.

Know that small accomplishments snowball over time. Little victories over fear add up quickly. Celebrate and remind yourself of the ways you are winning. Soon you will be able to look at a pile of victories and your confidence will grow.

Understand change can be good. Many of us have a negative view on change in general. We need to see change for what it is, it can be good or bad. But more important, we need to react to any change in the most positive way possible.

Problems are opportunities to grow. I still need to work on this one. I want to get to the point where problems energize me to find solutions. Too often, my progress slows when I see or even imagine problems that could happen. I need to think of them as speedbumps not roadblocks.

Let “what if” thinking work for you. You are likely creative and intelligent, your mind is powerful. For some people this works against them. You can “what if” yourself into a paralyzing state of mind. But the same brain that works in this way is also capable of creating the positive “what ifs”. What if this turns out better than you think? What if you conquer fear? What if you are free to reach your potential? It is an empowering way to think.

I hope you continue to follow along in this series. I pray you are finding answers and encouragement. I want you to know that victory over fear is not only possible, but within reach. You were designed the way you were for a reason. You have potential for greatness in whatever way you want to define greatness.

Keep pushing forward, be confident, and find the courage to overcome fear.

Next week we will look at ways to Arrange your life so that victory over fear is more likely.

Tom Wise

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5 LESSONS TO HELP YOU GROW IN YOUR FAITH

Learning To Ride A Bike

I remember as a young boy trying to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. Many of the kids that lived in our neighborhood were older than I was and had already made the transition, and I didn’t want to feel like a little kid anymore.

I remember the frustration that I experienced when that bike would fall over. It seemed that I was never going to get it to stay up right so that I could ride more than a few feet. Then one day, just like magic, it happened.

I hopped on a boy’s bike that was older than I.  His bike was taller than mine. When I climbed on, my feet could not touch the ground. To get started, I put my left foot on the pedal and pushed with my right foot, sort of like starting out on a skate board. When the bike began to roll, I hopped up and put my right foot on the pedal and began pumping my legs.

I don’t know how it happened, but away I went.

A Parable Of Jesus

Jesus said something similar one day when he was teaching.

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

– Mark 4:26-29  New American Standard Bible

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BIBLE STUDY | COMPILING YOUR RESEARCH

Below is the text that we have been working with over the past few weeks.

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

– Mark 12:13-17

Early on we discussed the importance of learning to ask questions in these two posts:  Part 1 & Part 2.  Then we talked about evaluating key words and phrases.  If you completed both of those exercises your work should look similar to what is below.

As we said in the beginning, not every question you answer will directly contribute to drawing conclusions about this passage of Scripture, but can and will lead to a deeper understanding of other Scriptures.  Your effort in study will not be wasted.

Work through the questions below.  Does this look similar to your work?  Are the answers in line with yours?

Look at your key words and phrases.  How do they inform the passage?  How do they add clarity or provoke questions?  Continue reading

BIBLE STUDY | EXPLORING INDIVIDUAL WORDS AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Formatting The Text

During this part of the process, I usually copy and paste the text into a Word document so that I can begin to mark it up.  I still have some folks in my church, believe it or not, that do not use a computer.  As they were working through this process, they wrote the verse out on a separate sheet of paper.

When I copy and paste I usually format the the text to use double or triple spacing so that I have enough room to make any notations that are needed.  I format custom margins so that the top and bottom are set to 0.5″ and the left and right margins are set to 2.0″.  This gives me the necessary white space on the page to work with.  I also Insert the chapter and verse in the header.  Finally, I use the justify format so that my margins are even and the page looks crisp and clean. Continue reading

BIBLE STUDY | LEARNING TO ASK QUESTIONS: PART 2

If all went well, you have between 15-20 questions that you have put together for Mark 12:13-17.  Below is the passage and a list of questions compiled by a group of students I recently helped walk through this exercise.

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they [d]were amazed at Him.

Mark 12:13-17  (NASB)

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