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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fearless Beauty: The Seven Deadly Fears

Have you felt powerless around the need to make certain decisions? Has the fear of change or transition created concern, or an adverse effect on your life? Do you ever find yourself afraid of being exposed and rejected, abandoned, deathly ill, broke, or not accepted? If so, you’re not alone. Every day millions of people experience various forms of anxious fear. Most of them, just like you, may not know that when we run from our fears in an effort to protect ourselves this becomes a learned cycle that is hard to break. But it can be broken!

One woman wrote me, “Fear has permeated every part of my life. Fear for my health. Fear of losing my job. Fear that what I believe about myself is true. Fear that my children will grow up and resent me. Fear that my marriage will fail. Fear that people will learn the ugly truth about me. Fear that I’ll never get better because I’m beyond repair. Fear that this pain will never end. Fear that my life will come to a tragic end. Fear of being punished by God for what I’ve done and for not letting Him into my life.”

When I read this I thought to myself, she has just summed up mankind’s greatest fears. A big component of the pain we feel is fear. No doubt, fear is immobilizing. Amy Carmichael wrote, “Have you ever thought how infectious fear can be? It spreads from one person to another more quickly and certainly than any of the fevers we know so well.”

Fear is complicated. It’s also an epidemic. It’s like a virus & strikes everybody—not just the weak & vulnerable. It can be transmitted to others—like our kids. Fear brainwashes us into thinking it’s protecting us but all it does is throw us in a personal prison of frustration & hopelessness.

It’s fear that makes us do crazy things. I bet you never thought of fear as a factor that makes people shallow, insecure, abusive, liars, loud & obnoxious, arrogant, pushy & anxious. That’s because fear morphs into an individualized survival mechanism—each of these characteristics are motivated by fear. People who act this way are seeking some way to protect themselves--even to advance themselves. But—rather than surviving or thriving --they’re slowly dying & destroying others in the process.

Most of us have never even thought about where our fears come from & how they developed. I’ll be honest with you: recognizing the way fear takes its form in our lives may be difficult; just as dealing with breaking it will be a challenge too. That’s because fear is subtle & takes on many forms. The process of breaking our fears will probably be messing. We may feel like we’re standing naked in front of the world—vulnerable & exposed. Saying good bye to some deep-seeded habits & thoughts can be risky—it leave us feeling more scared. But it can also be a stepping stone to a transformed self & a renewed faith.

I’m going to be doing a series on fear—on natural fear. Phobias, anxiety disorders, panic disorders—those are more specific which require a deeper level of research & discussion. On my BlogTalkRadioprogram, Every Body Matters, on Wednesday, I'm going to talk about are what I call the Seven Deadly Fears:

1. Fear of change/fear of the unknown (most common)
2. Fear of man
3. Imperfection 
4. Failure
5. Aging--My real self
6. Loss
7. Suffering, death, disease

Then I will be talking about 'Fear of God' to end the series. You won’t want to miss a single episode!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Secret to Life, Health, and Happiness: Change Your View of God

Over the past 3 decades brain research has come so far. Today we know that because of sin, all of our brains are out of balance and we all experience effects of out-of-control stress—the amygdala of the brain firing up constantly, which in turns effects our entire being. The constant stress impairs physical growth by shunting blood and energy away from our internal organs to the muscles. Our immune system is impaired and our prefrontal cortex can become paralyzed.

When fear increases, then love, growth, development and healthy thinking decrease. On the other hand, when love increases. Not only does fear decrease, but growth, development and healthy thinking improves. A person that never knows healthy love (their “love tank” is always on empty); their prefrontal cortex of the brain becomes dominated by the impulses of the limbic system [the part of the brain that controls the automatic systems of the body, our emotions, and survival responses].

When we are involved in activities that are sinful [violate God’s laws of love and justice], the conscience responsible for strategizing and planning, is impaired. In other words, we cannot think clearly when we are guilt-ridden. In order for our judgment to work best, our consciences must be clear. This is God’s design. This can only happen when we live in harmony with God’s law of love. This requires removing distorted God-concepts and seeking true knowledge of him [through the Holy Bible]. We tend to interpret God through our brokenness. This is why it is imperative we get our information about God straight from the Bible. God is love. God is good.

When we do this, the heart of your brain [called the anterior cingulate cortex, ACC); where we experience empathy, compassion, and love; where we choose right from wrong] grows stronger and calms or resolves the guilt feelings.

This amazing balance between reason and conscience was designed by God to enable human beings to make healthy choices. When we contemplate thoughts and activities that violate God’s law, the conscience fires up to alert us of danger. It simultaneously impairs the ongoing planning of the destructive sinful action, while the orbital frontal cortex sends signals attempting to correct inappropriate behavior.

Those who persist in the unhealthy [sinful/selfish] actions, despite the firing up of the conscience, may find greater difficulty removing themselves from the destructive thinking and behaviors. This is due to the damaging effect that selfish and fear-based actions have on the ACC. It is in this area of the brain that the battle between love and selfishness is either won or lost.

Life, health, and happiness are found where love flows free. And love flows where the truth about God is known. Recent scientific studies proclaim that worshipping a God of love stimulates our brain to heal and grow, while worshipping a God other than love activates fear circuits in our brains. If fear circuits are not calmed, chronic inflammation and damage to our brains, bodies, and relationships occurs.

If you want to hear the entire message you may download it at: Every Body Matters. Scroll down and click on this episode coming on Wednesday the 15th: The Secret to Life, Health, and Happiness: Change Your View of God