Tag Archives: Fear

SSA: Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing Part 1

I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.

Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I  appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I  ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.

**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**

I never felt affirmed as a man.  I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up.  My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man.  Getting married didn’t fix that.  Nor did becoming a father.  I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.

During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it.  I used to take out my anger on my wife.  Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that.  So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.

I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them.  I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men.  But I knew that this was wrong too*.  And I hated myself for it.  I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back.  Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays.  I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.

Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”.  However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”

Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.

I honestly told Him about my struggles.  As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began.  He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss.  It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12).  As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole.  As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly.  As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away.  I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).

* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality.  Others have done that adequately elsewhere.  Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this.  However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.

John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.

NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal.  John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here:

https://godlysexualityblog.com/2016/06/17/an-alternative-ending-to-the-orlando-shooting/

No Hold On You

I became aware…

Not aware of dreaming, but of being carried by eight or more beings who walked side by side in rows of two or three, assigned to each of my appendages. 
Their appearance was, head to foot, as though they were garbed in silhouettes, even their faces seemed clothed in black; they didn’t seem to be men exactly. I heard no sounds, not even footfalls, nor felt their grasp. 
The area was already shadows but an eye mask was swiftly put over my eyes, like they had become attuned to my becoming conscious and that I was searching my surroundings. 

Then darkness and only the sense of movement, of being carried. I began to thrash, attempting to loose myself from their nexus. 
Then I simply cried loudly from my inner being, “Daddy! Daddy!”

As the whoosh of a door, I was sucked out of their midst, as if I had become intangible…then I woke. Saved. And grateful, because dream or not, it felt intensely real. 

[For it is He] Who rescued and saved us from such a perilous death, and He will still rescue and save us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He will again deliver us [from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself]...   2 Corithians 1:10

This season I’ve been focussing on greater intimacy with God as DAD. Abba, daddy.

 I’ve determined in my heart for some time now, to feel vulnerable to nothing but the goodness of God because in the past, feeling vulnerable to the inner and the outer was my greatest awareness and suffering. 

Our soul enemy desires to intimidate and make us feel vulnerable to life and to death, to feel overwhelmed and powerless, captive to the unseen and the seen. Producing fear and trauma by sidelining us through the unexpected, are a favorite M.O. 

I believe this experience/dream is really about Dad reminding He is present in all things and if we are overwhelmed in our own capacity, beyond what we presently are or feel equipped for, He hears our cries and saves us. He really does hear, He really does come through, though we may not see Him, though we may only see the enemy.

We play many roles and functions as we mature. We may get used to being toughened soldiers and taking care of business. We may even try to “fake it til we make it” but Dad remembers what we may forget-the warrior is a child; His child. He is always present and ready to help. He attends to the voice of our cry. What we believe and feel about Dad, what we believe He thinks and feels about us is our tipping point, yet He is ever faithful.

“…and they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”            Luke 4:29, 30

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”                John 10:27-30

There’s no hold on you except His. Feelings and appearances matter not, he’s a good, good father and He is mighty to save.

What Kind of Spirit Have You Been Given?

Running several leg lengths would allow me to vault myself past the first couple stairs so that “it” would have less chance to grab my ankles and pull me into the black abyss. Such was my strategizing after about 7 years on semi-hostile planet earth. 

Of course my burgeoning rational capabilities argued The Boogeyman didn’t exist and couldn’t possibly live under the basement stairs in a space of 4h x 3w, but my older brother was quite convincing. He had the ability to authentically mimic a police car siren so that my parents pulled off to the side of the road, looking for the flashing red and blues more than once. He could imitate several of The Muppets, like Gonzo and the Swedish Chef and other TV/movie characters. I was convinced a job was waiting for him in Walt Disney’s studios, so you can see why I might have been inclined to give him the benefit of “possible” when he told me to be sure the boogeyman didn’t grab me from under the stairs. Oddly enough (sarcasm), the boogeyman never entered my conscious consideration prior to his suggestion.

My bother seemed to have early natural insights into Pavlov’s classical training and “little sister” was a quick learner, making associations and being affected by something akin to B.F. Skinner’s operant concept of shaping and chaining. Hence, a long period of leaping to skip stairs and avoid capture when I ascended from the basement of our family home, began. Somehow this “act” would supersede the long armed mystical reach of the boogeyman. I mentally calculated risk probabilities. “If I jump and land on that stair, that one, not the lower one, I’m safe.” Since I could only leap so far, I had to settle for the third step as safe, rather than the tenth. Can you relate on some level? 

This “act of faith” (more aptly named superstition) caused me to become a leaping lannie as a child. I leapt the stairs and bolted the rest of the way to the top each time. I also ran down the hall and leapt into my bed; then the creatures who hid beneath and in my closet couldn’t get me-especially once the covers were pulled over my head, even the one at the foot of the bed had to obey “the rules”! 

As a preteen, I would regularly return late from a long day’s ride, as dusk would fade to black. One night I’d had enough, I leapt through the house door from the dark of night, demanding the barn be burned down! (The barn was actually an old 2-story house drug over from the neighbors, which appeared haunted in particular times of day or night.) Logic: a new, real barn wasn’t a bad idea after all, and the sense of being watched from the second level windows was bad enough, but those creeps in it were creeping me out!

I was also a strong perceiver from a very young age, so I “felt” a lot of things, including in the “barn”. Fortunately my mother’s wisdom and knowledge of the bible exceeded mine and she opted to go pray in the barn instead of striking a match. It was peaceful after that; I’d been convinced it was now unoccupied except for flies, horse dung, and swishing tails in the heat of the day. It would do.

But then there were the Christian ghost tales, the stories of various demons showing up in places they shouldn’t- like the church. Isn’t that a sacred place off limits to devils and vampires alike?! And the pastor seemed a little afraid, or something… Then there were the people who felt like something was sitting on their chest making it hard to breathe-more than one story snuck in my earshot. I decided in my first decade plus that I didn’t want to “see” spiritual things and be further terrorized. For a long while I shut my eyes but I still felt so much. 

There were also the kind of creeps like lust, who often stood behind me or across the room- their watching eyes seeming to bore into me. As time passed, I felt other people’s oppression, depression, and other “-pressions”. Restaurants and crowded places came to feel like a big jangle of sensory stimuli, until I wanted to leave. Hospitals-I felt ill within minutes of entering them. 

Over the years I was undulated with fearful stories, and little evidence of God’s great powers, until even into my twenties I felt like fear was my stalker, encroaching my every aspect of life, backing me into a corner, stealing my confidence and sharing it’s many disappointments. A generalized anxiety became my “mostly normal”, and I felt hyper-sensitized to the awareness of “the darkness” in its various forms.

It’s partly why I liked to be alone on the back of a horse. There, was freedom. There, was an awareness outside of fear and intimidation. Nature, animals and especially horses were where I felt God most, where I came to know his presence best, and where many first lessons about peace, healing, and wonder were learned. It’s the place I first began to sing, and his presence is where I learned the truth about what kind of spirit I was given. 
Had I heard and known these things first, and only, it would have changed the way I had been shaped. Thank God, I learned the truth, and I was reshaped in love. I didn’t need to unlearn the old, rather new learning overwrote the old code I’d been programmed or conditioned to respond to. 

When I understood the kind of spirit I’ve been given*, I stopped being afraid. I began to know confidence. It took a little time to learn who He really is, but I’ve been persuaded. As for fear, fear is at least twofold. 

1) We’ve learned fear through associations, experiences, and pain.

2) Fear is a fearful spirit which counsels out of its own fears, making it the worst kind of counselor.

So what makes us so afraid? The problem is never the problem. We’re most afraid when we feel powerless. Something or someone in creation feels bigger and more powerful than we do, in a threatening manner. It’s also something we learned. We have been full of childlike faith, believed the “impossible”, and we have cowered at mere suggestion, because we learned pain, and we learned fear and we learned so many things from the knowledge of good and evil. We weren’t meant to. We were meant to learn Him- this spirit of love, peace and joy.

We were meant to be powerful, to feel confident, to know our dominion. We were intended for power, love and soundness. 

We’ve been given a spirit. Deliberately. On purpose. But this spirit is different. This spirit is holy, a spirit of counsel and of might, who is wonderful, wise and understanding, just and true. The spirit we’ve been given is one of power, love and soundness. One who acts as our advocate, our strengthener, our teacher and leader into all truth. We’ve been given the spirit of comfort and reconciliation. The spirit who reveals the deep mysteries of God and creation, filling us with knowledge too wonderful to know on our own, a spirit of revelation, a spirit who distinguishes between truth and lies, and brings freedom from the slavish bonds of fear. A spirit who echoes our adoption as children of God. 

Because we’ve been given this kind of spirit, our own spirit becomes just as He is. We are joined as one and we receive His love, his soundness, his wisdom, his fearlessness, his courage, his strength, his truth, his thoughts, his power and might. 

This last year has been something rather special. Before 2015 began I received two themes from the Lord: Grace, Grace and Rest. These were not predictive of an easy, simple year; rather they were words to live by, words to anchor in, words to meditate on, to reassure, to empower. Prior to that the theme had been on how to stand. 

2015 was the year my family would hear frightful things, things meant to make our hearts believe and feel the worst kinds of fear-fear inducing words and phrases like:

He has cancer, numbered days, it’s matasticized, here are some options-what do you want to do? radiation, chemo…

We don’t know- you can try this, okay, try that, ultrasound, google that,some people never get better, this test, CT scan, okay more tests, heart monitor, cardiologist. We can’t help you more, eventually you’ll be better.

Your mom’s had a stroke, can you come (to the other side of the country)? and upon arrival- You need to decide, your dad isn’t able to. What do you want to do?
I’ll probably be gone a month, sorry about Christmas, I really wish I could be home with you and the boys but … 

They stopped life support, she’s gone; dementia…He can’t live alone, what do you want to do?

We’re sorry to hear about your loss. Let us know what you would like to do. 

We have received your withdrawal letter for your program. If you want to enroll in the future, let us know. 

What do you want to do? What do you want to do? What anyone wants to do- rewind, fast forward, delete, delete, delete.
I felt a lot of things this year. I’m saying, a lot of things. But fear? No. Not fear. Fear is unwelcome. It’s foe not friend. And something else…
I’ve been persuaded by love. 

Perfect, complete love casts out all fear because love is power. Love empowers us to believe that the spirit we’ve been given is powerful and sound, and a stronger strongman than the one who’s been made so popular by fear. 

Oh sure, fear hoped I’d take it back, we were codependent for so long! But it’s foreign enough now, when it’s sneaks around I sense it immediately. It feels like a stranger instead of my old counselor. It tried, but I knew it wasn’t mine. It made suggestions, it offered advice as it came within earshot through the words of people it influenced. I stared at them at times; taken aback by their expectations. I realized they knew fear, but not Love. 

But I’d already been persuaded. And I still am. I can’t always know what today will hold, what may come tomorrow. Sometimes Holy Spirit (or Homy Spirit as my fingers often accidentally type- ya He’s my Homy too!) gives me a heads up- a brief preview of the future. And other times I’m caught by surprise like any other.

But this one thing I’ve concluded. I refuse to allow fear to steal my peace for now and tomorrow. I won’t be robbed of today, I won’t live in fear of tomorrow. I learned when anxiety or some other form of fear comes knocking, to bring myself to a place of peace within seconds. My feelings cannot rule; my spirit must, led by the spirit I’ve been given. 

Maybe you’re facing a difficult situation right now, or maybe one is coming and in this moment, you are blissfully unaware. We may face many dangers, but fear is optional. We don’t usually think so, but we can choose to be afraid, or not. Love is a choice as well. You’ve been given a spirit, but He is Good; receive Him in all his goodness and benefits. As He is, so we are in this world.

A few key verses that helped reshape my thinking and being:

2Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

Romans 8:15
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

John 14:26
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

1 Corinthians 2: 10-12
Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny]…

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed.

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].
Isaiah 11: 2-4
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—

And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears;

But with righteousness and justice shall He judge the poor and decide with fairness for the meek, the poor, and the downtrodden of the earth…

Untouchable:Transcending Death and Fear

What is your greatest hope? What would you do in this earth if you knew no fear ? What if you could never really die? & What IF you REALLY LIVED?

For fear of death, men searched out Life,

Legends of Fountains of Youth, and a Cup of the Holy Grail have expressed mans acute awareness that we were created for Life Eternally,…but have tasted of death.

We first become conscious of fear when we first experience deaths sting in various forms: doubt, pain, anger, betrayal.

We’ve political fears, financial fears, future fears,& past fears, fears of iving, fears of dying, fears of Hellos, fears of Goodbyes…fears of every kind….

Every Fear known by man begins in Fear of Death.

Fear is the first mentioned experience of Unbelief towards the ONE Who IS Himself, LIFE & LOVE.

Before mankind knew anything apart from love, we were told :

” IF you choose to Believe Me, we are One, and you will Live, the Life in me, in you also.

OR
There’s a natural alternative- one experienced by unbelief, as a fearful sense of separateness….of powerlessness.
IN HIS Incredible Love, God answered our fears of Death with Life: His Own life.

So He came clothed in mortal flesh, like us,

so we could become like him, once again; Mortality putting on Immortality, Life Swallowing up Death.

These verses share this reality with us:

“Since then the children referred to, are all alike sharers in perishable human nature, He Himself also, in the same way, took on Him a share of it, in order that THROUGH DEATH, He might render POWERLESS him who HAD Authority Over Death, that is, the devil, 15 and might SET AT LIBERTY all those who Through FEAR of DEATH had been subject to LIFELONG SLAVERY. 18 For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also Able instantly to help those who are tempted and tried.” Hebrews 2:14-18

“Love has in it no element of fear; but Perfect love drives away fear, because fear involves PAIN, and if a man gives way to fear, there is something imperfect in his love.” 1 John 4:18

“For (believing on Jesus) you did not receive a spirit of slavery again with resulting fear, (or as another version says: you did not for a second time acquire the consciousness of being: a consciousness(awareness) which fills you with terror) BUT You Have received the Spirit who places you as adult sons (heirs of promise), by whom we cry out with deep emotion, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit himself is constantly bearing joint-testimony with our [human] spirit that we are God’s children”. Romans 8:15

See, Jesus didn’t teach what & how to ‘heal’ or bring ‘deliverance’ so much as He taught WHO

Union with Father God is Having Life. Union with God makes man FULLY ALIVE, not only in the afterlife; but right now.

So for example: when we Choose Belief, in place of unbelief, the Life of Ages Enters our Spirit, we REVIVE IN Salvation’s Deliverance, mortality becomes immortality, our spirit is made alive to God, we are Transferred from death to life.

When His Life flows to our Mind Will & Emotions,, we receive the Power of Renewal & experience freedom of Life!

When we lay hands on the sick, His LIFE flows into bodies, overwhelming deaths effects, & we experience healing.

Any aspect of our lives that operates in Fear of death’s Shadow,  simply isn’t Yet Experiencing FULLY the Life of God.

It’s believing the One who promised is faithful To deliver, that causes us to experience His Life!! John 10:10

Where has fear of death been tempting you to taste of it? Where has He been asking us to believe Him over experience?

Whatever you feel is your need, In the words of our savior Jesus:” Dont be afraid, just believe.”

RECEIVE HIS LIFE.

I Cor:11 23 the Lord Jesus on the night during which He was being Betrayed, took bread, 24 and having given thanks, He broke it and said, This is my body which is [given] on your behalf. This be doing with a view to remembering me.

Meaning

[ that which I’ve done for you in love, which is true and to be believed and not false and not to be believed]

25 In like manner also He took the cup after the partaking of the food, saying, This cup is the covenant new in its nature, a covenant which is within the sphere of my blood. This be doing as often as you are drinking it, with a view to remembering me

For as often as you are eating this bread and drinking this cup,
the death of the Lord you are proclaiming until that time whenever He may come.

***key: by proclaiming His death,  we are announcing and demonstrating in faith to All the powers that be, & to Ourselves, that the POWER of death no longer has any dominion over us, that Jesus took back the keys of death and hades, we are Raised to New Life, we will no longer give in to fear! But being constantly led & believing, trusting in the power of Gods Life within us & love for us, and we can shout

“Death has been Swallowed up by VICTORY, where oh death is Your victory, where o death is your sting?”‘ :1 Cor. 15: 53-55

For if He didnt come in the flesh and die, then the rest isnt true either- His ressurection and ours to Life Eternally. But it is true, as history proves, and our living depends on believing.

1 John 5:4 …because everything that has been born of God is constantly coming off victorious over the world. And this is the victory that has come off victorious over the world, our faith

The power of believing His love for us, is the power of Life. His body was given for us for our healing, and His blood poured out for mankind, the true “Fountain of Life, the Cup of the Holy Grail”, removes the records of mans failings, upon their putting their trust for life in Jesus.

John 6:39 And this is the will of Him who sent me, that of all that He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it to life on the last day. 40 For this is my Father’s will, that every one who fixes his gaze on the Son of God and believes in Him should have the Life of the Ages, and I will raise him to life on the last day.”

John 11:25 Jesus said (to her), I myself am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. 26 And everyone who lives and believes on me shall positively never die. Do you believe this?

Revelations1:17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand upon me and said, “Do not be afraid: I am the First and the Last, and the ever-living One. 18 I died; but I am now alive until the Ages of the Ages, and I have the keys of the gates of Death and of Hades! 

Untouchable the life blood and body of Jesus Christ makes us untouchable, It makes us eternally alive, full of the very Life of God and we need never Walk this world in fear again..

I Leave you with the words of the Father, ” Dont be afraid Little Flock, it is My Pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke: 12:32