A Counseling and Opinion Blog

The Five Fires of Life

The next five articles will deal with “The Five Fires of Life”

Anger-Jealousy-Fear-Procrastination-Temptation

1. Anxiety/Fear: A Survival Guide

For readers of Examiner.com, this is a revised and edited article geared not just to suggest but to actually help eliminate and recover from anxiety. Please read the entire article to find the 5-fold plan.

Anxiety can strike anyone at any time.

This is a point reiterated to this pastor/counselor over 20 years of professional psychology and counseling practice and ministry and most recently

by this writer to several writer and pastor friends.

It seems these friends and colleagues were surprised that this pastor/writer got frustrated and anxious as just as they did. Pastors and church leaders are just human and their friends, family and congregations should remember that fact.

Christians must remember that they are not impervious to the illnesses of life rather physical or mental and we are capable of everything a non-Christian is as well.

For far too long, the Christian community has associated mental illness with evil and sin and yet everyone is vulnerable to both. We should never assume that anxiety or even greater mental health issues or the resulting actions are sin. That is, unless the patient knows of their problem and fails to do something about it , then, the end result becomes sin.

The Bible teaches us that we should not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

But even the most avid praying, Bible reading, church going and Christian fellowshipping person can be victimized by anxiety, frustration, depression and even severe mental health issues.

The stress of ministry on both ministers and Christian laity alike in the caring for people can be tremendous and it is often carried over into the home, family, marriage, job and even back into the church. These men and women have often visited this pastor/counselor’s study far too many times to describe here seeking counseling.

In fact, on an occasion this pastor/counselor/writer has even used fellow pastors, counselors and Christian Psychologist to consult for my own personal needs. It really helps.

One of the greatest solutions to anxiety is talking to a good listener about what frustrates you and what has you anxious. This is good therapy as long as it doesn’t become whining and a self-pity party. As the old saying goes, “nobody likes a whiner but everybody needs to whine sometime”.

It’s important to make sure that those we confess our problems to are honorable, level-headed and able to understand our need.

The Bible teaches us to “encourage one another and build each other up…”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV. So sharing with fellow Christians and members of your church family is a good place to start and the definitive word being start.

An area far too many people including Christians and pastors fall short in is thinking we don’t need to do anything more than just share the problems with friends or family which unfortunately often spreads that frustration and anxiety to the very ones we love.

We should remember that in the next verse of 1 Thessalonians 5 in verse 12, the Apostle Paul tells us to “…to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.”

There are many theological interpretations here but the bottom line is we are being encouraged to seek out those who can really help us and that know how to listen. In essence, we should never count out using professional help such as a pastor/counselor, therapist, psychologist or even a psychiatrist. If you do chose to talk with your pastor make sure the pastor is trained in counseling and actually offers counseling services.

The bottom line is that anxiety does not have to engulf us or control our lives.

As a pastor-psychologist/counselor, this writer has developed a 5-fold plan to avoid or recover from anxiety:

A 5-fold Plan to avoid or Recover from Anxiety

By Dr. Lee Outlaw

Text: Psalm 27:1-14

The KEY is to R E L A X:

1.  R ely – on the Lord.  (Psalm 27:1a)

2.  E  njoy – the strength and confidence which comes from God.  (Psalm 27:1b & 6b)

3.  L  ive – with Godly confidence in yourself.  (Psalm 27:3-4; 13)

4.  A cknowledge – God by ASKING Him anything; tell Him what is on your mind. (Psalm 27: 4-6; 11)

5.  eXpect – a Miracle.  Wait on the Lord; He will take care of you.  (Psalm 27:14)

We simply need to stop, relax and bring that anxiety to the Lord in prayer and allow our frustrations to be known to those we are certain will listen and genuinely care.

If the anxiety continues and becomes all-consuming, never be afraid to seek out a professional counselor who is trained to find and help end the cause of your anxiety.

2.  Anger: A Survival Guide

Like any disaster of life, the ability to survive is closely associated with the knowledge of both how and when the event occurs. Make no mistake; Anger can become a major disaster of life.

The knowledge of how, gives one the advantage of possible prevention of the event and the knowledge of when, allows time to prepare or even avoid the disaster.

The following information can be extremely beneficial in learning how and when ANGER occurs increasing greatly your chances for survival or even avoidance of anger.

The basic Biblical basis on how to deal with anger is found in Ephesians 4:26 where the Apostle Paul tells us “In your anger do not sin”.

A Biblical Imperative

Like jealousy (which we will cover in our next article) ANGER in and of itself is NOT Sin. In Fact, Jealousy will lead to Anger and most jealous people become angry.

There are Biblical accounts of God getting ANGRY as well as Jesus (as a man) becoming angry; God cannot sin and Jesus although completely man was completely God and He did NOT sin although He did get angry.  Again, ANGER is not sin. (Mtt.21:11 -13)

God however, can control ANGER. He knows when and how to release it.

Anger is a Godly emotion and as such, human beings need God’s guidance to help them control their anger.

ANGER always results in human judgment and can lead people to sin (and often does); even for believers.

How and When ANGER Occurs:

        1. When there has been human conflict. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Anger is easily triggered when two people are in disagreement without any resolution.

        2. When matters of conflict are not settled quickly. (Matthew 5:25)

Anger sets in and rash decisions and judgments are made.

        3. When there is separation from God. (Eph. 4:18)

            A deliberate separation from God and His people can change one’s attitude leading to anger.

        4. When hearts are “hardened”. (Eph.4:18) (A “mean spirit”; lack of compassion)

            Continual separation from God will reduce or eliminate one’s Godly passion and lead to a “mean

Spirit” and the ultimate anger.

        5. When sensuality rules. (Eph. 4:19)

Once the heart is hardened, sensitivity to God’s will is lost; anger sets in and overtakes the actual

will of God. What we often assume is the will of God is not.  We are blinded by our own anger.

Generally speaking, anger can cause Christians to think for years they have been following God’s

will when in reality they have only been following the status quo.

Below is a 5-fold approach on:

How to Prevent and Control Anger and Avoid Sin

1. Constantly renew your attitude. (Eph.4:22-24) Don’t think you have all of the answers all of the time. You don’t.

2. Seek the truth and BE truthful. (Eph. 4:25) Nothing seems to fuel anger like untruth. Be truthful with yourself as well.  If you surround yourself with angry people, the anger will ultimately infect you. You might ultimately have to eliminate friends or even family from your life.  You might even have to change jobs or a career. God’s will is that you be happy and live life to the fullest. You cannot live happily or at peace with anger all around you.

3. Don‘t allow anger to “brew”.  Give it a time limit. NEVER continue your anger overnight.

(Eph. 4:26-27) Anger is indeed like wine, the longer it brews, the more potent it gets.

4. Don‘t enter into senseless or degrading conversation (Eph. 4:29) Anger often results from what first appears as “innocent conversation”. Be careful who you talk, listen to and believe. Avoid like the plague those who would give you advice so freely and think they are looking out for your own good.  Chances are they are living vicariously through your life.

5. Settle ALL conflictual matters quickly! (Mtt.5:24—25) Don’t let conflict persist and those, whom you know who breed on conflict must be confronted, asked to cease their conflictual nature and attitude and if they don’t, cut them out of your life as fast as you would turn a light switch off.

We should remember that anger can actually be a good thing.  It motivates us many times to stand up for important aspects of our life such as family, friends, God and country.

Jesus tells us in Matthews’s gospel that ANGER is OK in general when:

1. People are taken advantage of in the name of God. (Mtt.21:11-13) and

2. Necessary expectations are not met. (Mtt.21:18-19)

The bottom line is seek God and He will guide your emotions and move you away from the danger of yourself.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best, 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.”

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3.  Jealousy: A Survival Guide

The second of  five articles on “The Five Fires of Life”

Anger-Jealousy-Fear-Procrastination-Temptation

In the second of the series on the Five Fires of Life, we look at one of the most serious of life’s “sunburn sensitive” issues, jealousy; a.k.a. “the green eyed monster”.

Although normally associated with love and romance between men and women, jealousy expands far beyond romance.

Loosely defined, jealousy is resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.

Jealousy can also be mental and emotional uneasiness from suspicion or the fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness,etc. as in love, romance or aims.

The difficulty with jealousy is that it can set off a host of other “sunburn sensitive”  (i.e. so sensitive you can’t even touch it) areas of life such as anger and temptation in general.

As a result, it is an absolute for sound spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well being to learn how to recognize when jealousy occurs and then to avoid and even eliminate it completely from our lives.

This is one are where Christian and secular/traditional psychology disagree. Mainstream psychology says in general that everyone gets jealous to an extent; there is no way to avoid it, you cannot eliminate and at best, you can only hope to control it.

Christian psychology agrees that everyone gets jealous on occasion, however, there is a Biblical basis for avoiding and even eliminating jealousy if we follow God’s word.

In order to overcome jealousy, it’s essential  to understand that biblical basis on how jealousy occurs and how to avoid or eliminate it from our lives.

One of the  greatest overall depictions of jealousy in the Bible actually occurs not between lovers but between two family members; the story of the the two brothers Cain and Abel.

From this story in Genesis we find a basic understanding of jealousy.

There are five Biblical Guidelines for understanding, avoiding and eliminating JEALOUSY.

Jealousy occurs when:

  1. There is DISAPPOINTMENT ( Genesis 4:5) God was disappointed with Cain and Chain was disappointed in God’s displeasure. Disappointment only occurs when man keeps his eyes on man and material gain.
  2. An Un-Godly ATTITUDE is present (Genesis 4:3:5-7) An attitude not conducive to God or the things of God must be eliminated. Cain did things his way and not God’s way.
  3. Man fails to see God as who and what He really is (Genesis 4:3; 10-14). God is OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT and OMNIPRESENT. Man must be TOTALLY dependent on God; to do otherwise diminishes the effectiveness of God in our lives.  Cain thought he could fool God and lie to God. Man can do neither.
  4. Man fails to see Himself as who and what He really is. (Genesis 4:5-7) Man is nothing more than DUST and man will return to dust. Somehow Cain failed to see the power of God and the limitation of himself as a man resulting in God banishing him from the garden of Eden.
  5. Man is UNFAITHFUL to God (Genesis 4:3;4-6) Man disobeys God directly, gives to God with the WRONG attitude and then tries to avoid and lie to God.  Cain did and we so often do this today. We disobey God directly and then try to make  amends through penitence rather than repentance. Doing rather than actually turning from and changing completely.

So the bottom line is, if we constantly look to, completely obey and depend solely on God, we will be less app to resent others or be mentally and emotionally uneasy from suspicion or the fear of rivalry. We will more easily recognize and then avoid or even eliminate the old “green eyed monster” of jealousy from our lives and have one less “sunburn sensitive”area of life to be concerned about.

The apostle Paul instructed his young protege Timothy in this matter by saying, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2Timothy 1:7.

©copyright 2011  Lee Outlaw III, PhD

4. Procrastination: A Survivor’s Guide

Video – 10 Tips to Fight Procrastination

Are you a Procrastinator?

Do you put off till tomorrow or the next day or the next day or the next what you should’ve done today?

Doctors and Psychologist tell us that two of the leading causes of both physical and mental destruction are the partners of procrastination and anxiety.

A survival guide for anxiety has already been discussed but the irony is procrastination ultimately leads to anxiety.

The frustration of knowing that one has unfinished business in his life leads to “high anxiety”; not just another anxious moment but clinical anxiety requiring anything from medication to hospitalization for control of the anxiety.

Putting off what needs to be done now is unhealthy physically, mentally and spiritually.

Failure to see a doctor when you’re sick can only worsen your condition, failure to see a counselor when  you’re emotionally troubled just  complicates your ability to stabilize your emotions and your failure to pray, seek Christian fellowship and study the Bible regularly depletes your  spiritual power and ability.

Procrastination is one the most dangerous and disastrous fires of life.

The writer of the book of Hebrews (either the Apostle Paul or his friend Priscilla) is very concerned with the well being of the child of God and besides the central issue of faith which Hebrews is primarily about the writer seems to be concerned with the issue of “procrastination”.

Hebrews 3:13, says “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

In general, the writer is interested in Christians not being procrastinators and insistent that procrastination is sin.

The Bible is very aware that human beings are plagued by the problem of procrastination and it is not just procrastination itself but results of procrastination which are of great concern.

Although many, there are four specific problems procrastination causes:

  1. Procrastination PETRIFIES – that is, it hardens your heart.  As we continually postpone what we should have done, it becomes easier and easier to put off more and more until we develop calluses of contrite upon our heart.  This often makes us unloving, less compassionate, and full of misery, malice and bad memories.
  2. Procrastination POISONS – it slowly but surely kills individuals, homes, marriages and even churches. Just like someone who has ingested a lethal dose of a slow killing poison, PROCRASTINATION can so convince a person that continually putting off is so normal that  before the full effects are felt, “baam” your life is destroyed.
  3. Procrastination PENETRATES – the lives of others; friends, family and even people we might not even know. If your employer is depending on you to do something today and it doesn’t get done, your procrastination penetrates your employer’s business.  Your failure to help your child with their home work can penetrate their life and possibly cause them a bad grade in school. Your failure to pay your power bill penetrates your entire family and results in misery for you and your family.
  4. Procrastination PARALYZES – When things need to be done today but get put off until tomorrow lives become stagnant and many times go nowhere.

It’s much like needing a new car battery. You keep trying to charge it over and again until one day you find the battery will no longer take a charge and your car won’t start, you’re stuck standing still and going nowhere.

The Bible gives a 4-Fold approach to getting rid of Procrastination:

 

  1. Don’t procrastinate getting rid of PROCRASTINATION. Don’t doubt God. Hebrews 3:12 states, “12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
  2. Begin IMMEDIATELY – Turn idleness into encouragement. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
  3. Live your life with CONFIDENCE………confidence in Christ. 14 “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end”. Hebrews 3:14
  4. Proceed Immediately (in God’s will) so as NOT to change and NOT to rebel. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”  Hebrews 3:15

The fact is that most people procrastinate.

The great paradox of procrastination is that most people procrastinate getting rid of procrastination.

Begin a new today by making a commitment to rid yourself of procrastination, attempt to finish those unfinished things in your life, develop a strong confidence about your life and be quick to encourage and help others eliminate procrastination in their lives as well.

©Copyright 2012 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III

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 MORE TO COME……….

Comments on: "The Five Fires of Life" (1)

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