A 100% Authentic Sinner

‘This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.”  

1 Tim. 1:15, NLT

There are some things that can be easily understood, they are obvious.  As believers, there are certain things that are just written in stone.  They are revealed to us in a moment of time, and give us dimensions to a knowable truth.  In this case, ‘people sin all the time’. Our essential nature as a human being is to sin. We are “factories of sin.”

Paul’s relationship has its starting point in theology.  He declares to us directly the perhaps ultimate fact in the entire universe.  Jesus has come for sinners.  Sinners, transgressors, perverts, and the foolishly ignorant are special recipients of a grace that is irresistible.  This is why Jesus came, to find us who have been so twisted up by life, and left wrecked by the side of the road.

It’s funny but I have a point of departure with Paul’s proclamation of being the worst, or the chief of sinners.  I contend with it because I know and believe in my own wickedness.  (I’ve always felt Paul was a bit premature on this).  My own iniquity is such that I feel I can supplant Paul’s personal place.

But in this central verse in 1 Tim 1:15 lays out some vital truth.

  • Jesus has come.
  • He has focused on the “world.”
  • His purpose in coming was to save each of us.
  • Paul understands and thinks he is the ultimate sinner.

Who are we, exactly?  I think we need to realize that scriptural truth has come to us, and rather some diverse mist that just accepts all of us just as we are.  Rather, it’s more like each of us accepting God’s terms of what is theologically real and walking away from it, having absorbed the truth.

It is true, that united with Christ I live a resurrected life. But there can be no resurrection with something dying first. Both are needful. Both are to be part of our theology. Thats what is really important.

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Panic Attacks Understood

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Anxiety (panic) attack symptoms can feel awful, intense, and frightening.  The good news is that while they can seem serious, anxiety attack symptoms aren’t harmful in and of themselves. That is sonething to remember.

Because there are many medical conditions that can cause ‘anxiety-like’ symptoms, it’s wise to discuss your symptoms with you doctor. If your doctor has attributed your symptoms to stress and anxiety, you can feel confident that your doctor’s diagnosis is correct. Anxiety attack disorder is relatively easy to diagnose and isn’t easily confused with more serious medical conditions.

Anxiety attack symptoms are NOT always indications of a serious medical condition. They are simply dramatic responses to being afraid. Being afraid causes the body to stimulate stress hormones. Since stress hormones are designed to prepare the body for action, the changes stress hormones bring about can cause the body to exhibit “symptoms” of this biochemical change. Anxiety attack symptoms are simply “sensory sensations” of this biological change. Again, they aren’t harmful, but they are letting you know that your body’s stress hormone levels are elevated.

Common anxiety attack symptoms include:

  • A feeling of impending doom, that something horrible is about to happen, that you are in grave danger
  • A strong feeling of fear, foreboding
  • An urge to escape, to get out, to run away from danger
  • Blanching, turning white, looking pale
  • Blushing, skin blotches, turning red
  • Burning skin
  • Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)
  • Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness
  • Emotional distress
  • Emotional upset
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Fear of losing control, freaking out
  • Fearful thoughts that seem incessant
    Feels like there is a tight band around your head
  • Hot or cold chills
  • Inability to calm yourself down
  • Knot in the stomach, tight stomach
  • Nausea
  • Numbness, tingling sensations in any part of the body
  • Panicky feeling
  • Pins and needles feeling
  • Plugged ear(s), stuffed ear(s)
  • Pounding heart
  • Racing heart
  • Shooting pains in the chest, neck, shoulder, head, or face
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Trembling, shaking (visibly shaking or just trembling on the inside)
  • Upset stomach
  • Urgent desire to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)
  • Vomiting

There is a long list of anxiety symptoms. But because each body is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety affects each person differently. Consequently, anxiety symptoms vary from person to person in type or kind, number, intensity, and frequency. If your symptoms don’t exactly match this list, that does not mean you don’t have anxiety. It simply means that you body is responding to anxiety slightly differently.

For example, one person may experience only a few minor symptoms, while another person may experience the majority of symptoms to great intensities. All combinations are possible and common.

Anxiety attack symptoms can range from mild to severe, from only one symptom to all of them, and can be sporadic, frequent, or persistent. Again, all combinations are possible and common. My own attacks are intense, but I know they’ll go away in time.

Sometimes all we can do is accept the issues that anxiety brings.  We must understand that the Holy Spirit knows us fully, and that He will bring us through.  Be confident in His grace and receive His mercy.  The reality is that Jesus will carry you the distance.

 

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Unfixable Things

sisyphis-bwLife is jam-packed with problems.  Money, marriage, children, work, health, church and so much more.  In Greek mythology, we find lessons from a man named Sisyphus.  He was the king of Corinth, and known to be a rascal. He was conniving and arrogant  (a good description, “hubris”). The gods hate hubris in people.

Somewhere along the line, he really ticked someone off and he was condemned for all eternity to roll a huge boulder up a large hill.  He would toil and sweat, to reach the top, only to have that boulder roll down the hill.  He would have to start all over again– endlessly repeating this work. Up and down– forever and ever. (Apparently– he’s at it today.)

I suggest that there are quite a few things that are inherently unfixable. It certainly seems like we are going to resolve them.  It may even seem like we’re making some headway.  When we get close, our boulder rolls down the hill. And we stand there looking dumbfounded, wondering what we can do differently next time. Often when we are aware of the tedium and the monotony– the repetitive effort; it seems about time that we do something different.

But there are also hard, and ghastly things, issues that we will never change.  We try, and then we try harder.  But it is apparent we can never make things so they click.  These are simply unfixable from our point of view. We’re completely– “over our head.” And, guess what?  We really are.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. 42 Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42, NCV

Making things work should never be your top priority.  We face problems that in ourselves we will never correct.  I must tell you this, we can’t turn these issues into our primary focus.  The Lord Jesus is to be all that we seek.  He is our first priority. We are to concentrate on His dear presence– above all else.

Perhaps, instead of seeking solutions for our lives, we should be seeking His face?

“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Philippians 4:13, MSG

We are to talk to Him about these things that perplex us. I would suggest that these convoluted problems are the Fathers’ way of driving us to Him.  Eternity is now our real home, and we must come to the place in God where we seek Him now, just like we will in heaven.  We can quit rolling our boulder up the hill.  We will cease and desist. Instead we will trust and seek His face.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should goI will counsel you with my eye upon you. ” 

Ps. 32:8, ESV

“But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ 21 has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. ” 

Phil. 3:20-21, CEV

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Ignoring a Mentally Ill Believer

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45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Matthew 25:45, NLT

The truth of the matter is that the Church can be the wrong place to have a mental illness. This is a generalization, I know. But many times it is true. We have a strong tendency to offer only token acknowledgement of “the least among us.” We will smile and nod, and, oh so quickly move away; we feel we’ve performed our ‘duty’ as a Christian. We are somewhat relieved to ‘get away’ and dodge the problem person.

Stereotypes abound for the mentally ill. Afterall, they can be demanding, unpredictable, and dangerous. The worst are those who are dirty, unkempt. They say things that are odd and out-of-place. Have weird delusions and paranoia. They move to the margins, and usually sit in the back. But as a general rule, the mentally ill get ignored.

“People with mental illness sometimes behave in ways other people don’t understand and can’t make sense of. People with severe depression sometimes stay in bed all day, unable to manage the most basic motivation to move. People with anxiety disorders can be gripped by irrational or even unidentifiable fears that don’t incapacitate other people. Those affected by psychotic disorders may see things that aren’t real, hear voices that don’t exist, and sometimes lose the ability to discern reality at all.”

Amy Wilson, Christianity Today, 4/10/13

Often, a believer must find valuable help outside ‘the four walls’ of the Church. Some resources are often found with wise psychiatrists and caring therapists in clinical care. Medications (which are a godsend) give the afflicted much relief. The local Church just don’t always have the resources but that is o.k. It isn’t their role exactly.

However, the Church of Jesus has the only ‘real corner’ of the spiritual side of things. The body of believers encourages, teaches and guides. Without it, the mentally ill Christian would be severely effected. The local church feeds us spiritually. It can’t be replaced. It has ‘the goods’ for discipleship. It has the Word of God and motivating worship. It has elders and other leaders who shepherd each believer, into a holy life. It provides fellowship which the believer with a mental illness must have.

It’s also a place of ministry: each one using his/her gift in the corporate body of the saints. This is vital. The broken believer has an opportunity to serve, which is such a factor in the walk of the disciple. We need them in our fellowships, and they need to be there too. God blesses those who will serve Him in this. Fellowship is critical for disabled believers.

As Jesus’ representatives in this present moment, we need to extend our hands. We may not fully understand the afflicted, but we can reach through the issues (ours and theirs) and administer the love of Jesus. We might pray that this scourge of mental illness be lifted out of our society.

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