Cure for The Fear Pandemic

By Heather Walton

About 20 years ago, shortly after I became a Christian, I was participating in some job training. One day we took a lunch break at a local outdoor food court. As we ate, a bee took an interest in my food and wouldn’t leave me alone. I was terrified of insects, especially the stinging type, so I began panicking like a 3-year-old. One of my fellow trainees, a middle-aged Jewish woman, looked at me pointedly and said, “You know, I’m really surprised that someone with your great faith would be so scared of a little bee.”

At that moment, I was stung with such conviction that I determined that I would no longer fear insects, and to this day, I have succeeded. My fear had ruined my ability to enjoy lunch, but more than that, it had marred my testimony to an unbelieving friend.

A pastor told a story of a family taking a car trip in which a bee decided to ride along. One of the children was shrieking in terror, when his father decided to intervene. The father caught the bee in his hand, took the sting, and then let the bee continue to fly around the car. He assured his child that there was nothing more to fear, since he had already taken the stinger. The pastor likened this father to our Lord, who took the sting of death for those who trust in Him, that we might not fear the sting of death.

How many of us are doing just that, though? We are living in fear of so many things today:

  • a microscopic virus that could make us sick and has less than 1% chance of killing us
  • violent crime
  • losing our livelihood
  • losing our savings
  • being shamed for wearing/not wearing a mask
  • losing our civil liberties
  • who will win the election
  • being forced to take a vaccine
  • what the next big development of 2020 will be

Add to the list any personal fears we each carry, and it can be really overwhelming.

I’ve been considering a few questions lately:

What’s more important — surviving or living?

First, what’s more important — surviving or living? If I have to live in a bubble in order to stay alive, is that really living? If I have to fear every little thing when I walk out of my house and every little thing that comes into my house, is that really living? If I am missing out on relationships, is that really living? Would I rather live long or would I rather live well?

I’ve also pondered why this particular illness is the ONE that has us all paralyzed and isolated. We’ve never done anything like this before, as far as shutting down so systematically and for so long. Other illnesses and activities have killed far more people, but went virtually unnoticed. What’s the difference?

Part of the problem today, I think, is that we are so entitled as Americans. We believe that we simply should live to be very old and that we should have our needs provided for us. We expect life to be safe and sterile, and current events don’t fit our expectations.

I look at America today and, technological advances aside, I doubt our ancestors would recognize us. Think about it: People boarded ships, risking illness, starvation, and death, to come to America. Pioneers trekked across the country on foot and in wagons, risking life and limb, to make a better life for themselves and their posterity. America has been known for its independent spirit. Americans have historically been leaders who took risks to advance and rise above circumstances. Yet, here we are, allowing our country to be brought to a screeching halt by a microscopic organism that is not nearly as likely to affect us as the dangers our patriot predecessors faced.

At the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy was mid-forties, meaning I personally probably would have gone onto glory by my age if I had lived during that time. Today, we expect — even demand — to live twice that long. The average coronavirus death happens to those over the average life expectancy, and though every death is sad, it seems presumptuous for us to expect to cheat death. With the exception of two people in history (Enoch and Elijah), every single person has died or will die, barring the rapture. God has determined every one of our days before even one of them came to be, so for us to think we can come up with a humanistic solution to the problem of death is utterly prideful and foolish.

We are creating a generation of germaphobes and hypochondriacs. We need to remember that we shouldn’t fear death so much as we should fear and revere the One who determines how we spend eternity.

Another area of fear relates to our liberty. There are people threatening America’s freedoms, people who violate the Constitution in the name of peace and safety and people who push a Marxist agenda. Many of us know we need to stand against this, yet we are afraid to do so. We fear legal penalties, social stigma, family safety, and more. We would do well to look at the example of our nation’s founders. They put it all on the line for their families and their descendants. They risked all of this for us, people who were not yet born, but would benefit from their willingness to sacrifice. How would they feel, knowing we have taken this freedom so for granted that we don’t mind giving it up?

Let’s take it a step further: How must God feel toward us, knowing that He created our bodies to be resilient and our brains to be wise, yet we are so fearful? How must He feel, knowing that He sent His precious Son to die for us, that we may have the abundant, eternal life, yet we are so caught up in the physical existence? How must he feel, knowing that He died to set us free, never again to be enslaved, yet we willingly submit ourselves to multiple yokes of slavery? How must He feel, seeing us shaking our fists, kicking our legs, writhing in anger and fear, and demanding long life, prosperity, and security, when He has all of those things laid up for us, just not in the form we demand?

There are at least 100 verses that tell us not to fear. Why?

  1. God is on His throne.
  2. He is never taken by surprise.
  3. He has promised never to leave or forsake us.
  4. He has our best interest in mind.
  5. He takes care of the lilies and the birds, and will certainly take care of us.
  6. He loves us.
  7. He is our father and we are His children.
  8. He determined our times and places, and knew all of our days before even one came to be.
  9. He gave us a spirit of power and a sound mind.
  10. He has promised us the abundant life.
  11. Our eternal life is secure if we trust in Him.
  12. He delights to take care of us.
  13. He will provide for us in the midst of our enemies.
  14. He will not allow evil to triumph.
  15. Nothing can separate us from His love.
  16. He is the One with the power over life and death.
  17. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world.
  18. He will uphold us with His righteous right hand.
  19. He has already told us how it ends. Spoiler: He wins and we get the spoils.
  20. He has prepared a place for us.
  21. We are already seated with Him in heaven.
  22. He has freed us from slavery.
  23. He has taken away the sting of death.
  24. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.
  25. He is in control!

I could go on forever …

If you’re a Christ follower and you’re fearful or anxious, this is understandable, especially given the uncertainty we currently face, yet the Lord has given us the remedy:

… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

This is the believer’s prescription for peace. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is attainable.

If you don’t yet know the Lord, then no wonder you are anxious or concerned; not only is this life precarious, but your eternity is unsettled. I have good news: That can change today!

Simply acknowledge that you are a sinner, meaning you agree with God that you’ve done bad things, and that you have offended Him with those actions. Because of this, you don’t deserve to spend eternity in His presence. However, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as a man, to identify with our weaknesses, to live a perfect life, and to die an atoning death, not for His own sins, because He was sinless, but for our sins. Accept that payment for your sins and transfer your allegiance from this world and your flesh to Him. Commit to allowing Him to be in charge of your life from here on out. Confess Him as your Lord, knowing that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, confirming that He is God and that He has authority to forgive sins and power to give you eternal life. When you do, He will save you and begin the process of sanctifying you, which means making you a more Christlike person. Your eternity will be secure, and you will be reconciled to Him. This will give you peace, joy, and comfort, no matter what circumstances come your way. Out of response for what He has done, get plugged into a local congregation, get baptized, read the Bible, pray, and serve others, all in order to know Him better and to glorify God to others, all because you’re grateful for His free gift. We can’t earn any of this; we simply accept it and it’s ours.

A right relationship with God, one in which we believe His promises are true and that He has our best interest in mind, is the cure for the fear pandemic.

Thankful for much

By Heather Walton

As today is a day to highlight that for which we are thankful, I want to share some of the blessings in my life.

  1. Twenty-two years ago, I met a man who changed my life and my eternity. His name is Jesus, and He is my creator, my savior, my best friend, and my reason for living. He has given me the promise of eternal life in heaven, which is beyond imagining, and He has given me an abundant life now, which I never could have predicted for myself.
  2. A year ago today, Terry and I got our marriage license. We’ve been married for eleven months, and I never cease to be amazed by how much we love each other. It’s an incredible thing to love and to be loved, to be married to my best friend, to spend my life with someone who has such similar goals, hopes, and dreams, and to experience a second chance at love.
  3. Though I experienced the loss of our unborn children this year, I am so blessed to have given birth to four healthy children and to have three step-children. My life is filled with kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  4. My family and in-laws are wonderful people who help me, listen to me, and regularly show me love.
  5. I have many supportive friends who have helped me through difficult times and have rejoiced with me through good times. I know that I can call on several godly women for counsel and understanding.
  6. God has chosen to use me to develop a ministry to families looking for educational alternatives. In 2013, I began a school that I thought would be very small, but it has grown to 82 children in preschool through high school. I was not the most likely candidate to run a school, and I had no idea what God had in store, but I believe that’s exactly why He chose me–so He alone would get the glory.
  7. Though I initially had a good deal of strife with my ex-husband, we are now able to work together in a civil manner to co-parent our children, and this is to their benefit.
  8. I live in America. This is a true blessing, as long as we can keep our perspective on heavenly treasures, rather than earthly treasures. I am thankful to live in a free country where I have all my needs met. There are many great countries in the world, but I am glad to be an American.
  9. I am healthy. This is often taken for granted, but it should never be. I have known so many people who have battled great illnesses, some of whom lost the earthly battle at young ages. So in their honor, I will appreciate my own health.
  10. I have a roof over my head, a full fridge and pantry, a running vehicle, and plenty of clothes. Though I have gone without a paycheck from time to time, I have never gone without having my needs met.
  11. I have two children waiting for me in heaven, who will never experience any of the pain of this life. I don’t have to worry about whether they will accept Christ, because they are already in His presence. This doesn’t minimize the fact that I wish they were in my arms, but I am looking for the good in the situation.
  12. I have been blessed with grief. Over the past few¬†years, I have experienced some of the most difficult situations of my life, and I have become a more compassionate, understanding person because of it. Though I would trade the situations that caused the grief, I wouldn’t trade the growth they have brought.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015! To God be the glory; great things he has done!

Family Photo 11-15

Christians often alienate those they should serve

sad woman 1I attend a very conservative church where the Bible is preached as the literal, inerrant word of God. I also am very connected to our local homeschooling community, which also is ultra-conservative. I run a business that mainly draws conservative Christian families.

So when I filed for divorce, I began to be concerned about judgment. I felt the need to explain my situation–to prove that I had Biblical grounds and that I had done everything possible to save my marriage.

There are those in the Church who believe that a person should stay married no matter what. If a woman is being abused, if children are being harmed, if there is constant deception, manipulation, and betrayal. No matter what. They would say that, unless there has been proven physical adultery with another person, and that the offender isn’t repentant, there are no grounds. Really???

In my case, I think a proven affair is more reconcilable than what my STBX was into. I’m not going to share the details, but, trust me, it’s disgusting. But what’s worse is that he lies to me constantly. And he manipulates me. A marriage should be based on trust, but his lies and manipulation have destroyed that trust.

I was counseled initially to file for legal separation instead of divorce. I wasn’t enthusiastic about this option, but, because two out of three of the church leaders I counseled with advised this, I did it. I do believe that was the correct thing to do at the time, but things became clearer after I had filed.

Interestingly, legal separation is also referred to as a “limited divorce.” I don’t think that legal separation is any holier than divorce, as some seem to think. One of the leaders with whom I counseled was in disagreement with legal separation. He said that, since we were physically separated, we really were not following God’s plan for marriage. He believed we should reconcile or get divorced.

Though I was counseled by some that I should stay separated for as long as necessary, I question the Biblical basis of this advice. Nowhere in Scripture can I find anything about marital separation. It doesn’t seem to be addressed, except in Mark 10:9 and Matthew 19:6. Those verses say that, what God has joined, man must not separate.

However, when I made my discovery five months ago, it was clear to me that we needed to separate. I do believe God gives us wisdom and reveals the path to us. Sometimes it’s obvious because it’s clearly laid out in Scripture. But other times, He guides us in other ways, such as common sense or a specific leading by the Holy Spirit. (Of course, this guidance will never contradict Scripture.) I believe it is obvious that my STBX has some issues that make it apparent that our family doesn’t need to live with him. Furthermore, he is doing things that concern me when it comes to my children’s safety. And he has completely and irrevocably shattered the trust that is necessary for a healthy marriage. Biblically, he has committed adultery, even if there has been no third party involvement. He continually sought out women to look at who would arouse him sexually. This qualifies as adultery, according to Matthew 5:27-28.

Now to my main point:

As a conservative Christian who associates with many conservative Christians, I feel like I need to be careful how I present my situation, because I fear that I will be judged. I feel the need to justify and explain. I worry that people are secretly judging me. I anticipate that, through the years, I will find myself being tempted to explain my situation.

Since I found out some really sick behaviors of my STBX, two of the three church leaders with whom I consulted affirmed my decision to divorce. That helps me feel assured. But since I’m not going to share the details with most people, I fear that people will judge.

Why does the church do this? Why do we focus on sins and perceived sins? We should be focusing on people, not on their sins.

Take the whole Duck Dynasty thing for example. Christians were affirming Phil’s right to free speech. Sure, I agree with his right to free speech. But I question the line of thinking that his comments were helpful. Do you think any homosexuals were won to Christ because of what he said? I doubt it.

If Christians focus on talking non-Christians out of committing certain sins, isn’t that Pharisaical? If we target homosexuality, divorce, or any other perceived sin, aren’t we missing the point? The point is that we can’t live holy lives apart from putting our trust in Christ. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue and preach Biblical application. Of course we should. But when we separate that from love, we will not be effective.

Churches should reach out to hurting people, rather than simply pointing out their sinfulness or perceived sinfulness because of certain circumstances of their lives.

The truth is that we often don’t know the circumstances behind a divorce, and we often don’t know the details that drive many decisions people make. Perhaps they made the best choices they could, given their situations. Divorce is a rejection, even for the one who files. In my case, I was the one who filed, but he was the one who divorced me emotionally, spiritually, and, in some ways, physically. I’m just making it official.

Divorce is rejection. As the church, should we add our rejection to it? Or should we be an instrument of healing? I think the answer is clear, and I hope that my own pain will be used for God’s glory in bringing about healing to those devastated by divorce.

Boys will be boys????

Man at work

(Photo credit: Roberto Verzo)

 

Many people, including Christians, rationalize using pornography. “Boys will be boys,” they say. However, the Bible says, in Galatians 5:23, that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control.

Pornography has no place in a Christian’s life. It demeans women, cheapens intimacy, causes shame, and devastates families. Looking at porn can lead to addiction, which generally leads to manipulation and deception.

 

 

 

I know it may seem like using porn is a secret thing that only affects the user. While it definitely does have profound consequences for that person, the effects of this secret sin reach his wife, his kids, and even his friends and neighbors. If a person is trapped in pornography addiction, he is likely self-absorbed and angry, which makes it difficult to have healthy, God-honoring relationships with others.

 

 

 

I realize that my husband’s use of porn isn’t my fault and that it doesn’t mean he finds me unattractive. Many women don’t realize that, though. The first time I found out that my husband was looking at images of other women, I felt highly inadequate. In time, I learned that this isn’t the case. Still, it’s unsettling to be out with one’s husband and to wonder if he is seeing the other women around you as sex objects. And the fact that he does see women as sex objects makes me wonder if he sees me that way–if women in general are not real people to him, but only a means to an end.

 

 

 

Guys who are addicted to porn often don’t respect their wives. Again, they may simply see their mates as people who exist to serve them. They tend to be self-absorbed, rather than humble servants who love their wives like Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25)

 

 

 

I’m not saying porn addicts are terrible people. My own husband is a great guy in some ways. Most people would never suspect the problem. Those who know us well have sensed something wasn’t right, but most people probably didn’t.

 

 

 

And this problem is wide-spread, even in the church. Women need to understand what an epidemic this is. Men need to comprehend how hurtful it is to a marriage and family. (I realize that women also may struggle with porn, but I’m coming at it from the perspective of a wife of an addict.) It’s time for believers to get serious about this sin–to be educated and committed to living for God’s glory, rather than for temporal pleasure. I understand that addicts have a good deal of gut-wrenching work to do in order to be free, but it’s so worth it. My own family is separated right now, and divorce is a possibility. This has devastated me, and has negatively impacted our children.

 

 

 

If you struggle with this secret sin, don’t rationalize it–fight it, in God’s power. Don’t just consider yourself, but the others around you and the future generations that will be impacted. Join a recovery group and get individual counseling from a certified sex addiction counselor. Healing is possible!

 

 

 

If you’re married to a porn user or porn addict, you don’t have to put up with it. You can set firm boundaries and choose not to enable this sin. And you can get support. Many women are in your shoes. Women in the Battle has a supportive online community. There are support groups, and individual counseling is also a good idea. Healing is possible for you too!

 

 

 

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