Dealing with Worry in Our Christian Lives

by Steve Goode

I would like to take the liberty of crafting a Biblical definition of what worry really is. Worry is the chronic or even occasional act of dwelling on our negative actions and circumstances with no confidence that a solution will ever be revealed. In fact it is rather faithless to feel this way, but I believe we can all sympathize and relate to this type of worry and anxiousness. It’s the kind that makes your stomach feel slightly knotted with just a dash of increased heartbeat. Once you have reached this point it’s hard to stay focused on anything else! Maybe you are dwelling on how to pay the bills, your relationship to your spouse, or some other negative or uncontrollable circumstances. It could be you are caught up in dwelling on regrets or past mistakes and you just can’t shake the flashbacks! Let me be the first to confess that I have traveled down most of these dwelling roads and it is no picnic. In fact in some cases we can feel situational feelings of depression over what we let our minds dwell on. Sometimes the symptoms of worry can be so emotionally painful you may be tempted to get a prescription thinking it will fix your anxiousness, but trust me, unless you have a true chemical condition it won’t work. There are no magic pills.

Now that I have gotten you good and depressed I bet you are wondering where this is headed. We have learned that we arrived at a bad place because we dwelled on the wrong things. In fact the Bible tells us to fix our thoughts on honorable and true things. He desires for us to spend time on things that are worthy of praise. (Phil 4:8)

Image from Lifehack.org


The problem was never simply fixing our mind, but fixing it on the wrong things! Quiz yourself and see where you have been letting your mind dwell. Can you honestly say it was fixated on pure and honorable things?

We need to understand that to worry is a sin! The Bible says that we are to worry or be anxious for nothing. (Phil 4:6) Paul goes onto tell us that we are to pray and give thanks to God because he is the ultimate peace giver! The result of bathing your issues in prayer is that God will guard your heart. Wow, we can be protected and guarded by God where we can be hurt the most, our heart. We are also specifically told to cast all of our cares on Him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) As we go down the list of scriptures we appear to be losing more and more traction on our reasons to worry.

Dwelling appears to play a major role in our worry so let’s talk for a moment about where we should allow our minds to dwell. There must be a place somewhere for a child of God’s mind to dwell where it can feel completely and totally safe from the circumstances and hurt of this world! To answer this I would like to tell you about an elderly gentleman my wife April and I used to help care for in 2000. His name was Roy Harris and he was a 90 year old homebound Alzheimer’s patient. Each time we would go by to see him we would ask him to recite Psalm 91. You see, even though Roy was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s he had memorized Psalm 91 when he was younger, and even through all he had forgotten, that Psalm still dwelled in his mind. The first verse said “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow Almighty.” (Ps 91:1) I learned a great deal from Roy about where my mind needs to dwell if I want a true sense of peace and contentment. I can dwell in the very presence of the Almighty God! I do this by spending extended time in reading the Bible and prayer. There is no better way to rid your body of the feelings of worry and anxiousness! In fact Jesus Christ has been subjected to the very same temptations, worry, and anxiety that we each face every day. The Bible says that Jesus experienced all of these emotions while on earth. Jesus understands and cares deeply for you and where you are in your life. (Heb 4:15-16)

If you have bothered to read to this paragraph you have a question to ask yourself. Where has your mind been dwelling? Have you been worried and anxious about many things in and around you? My prayers are with all those who have allowed worry and anxiousness to encompass their lives. I pray that you will dwell in the shelter of the Most High today.

Faith Does Not Grow in a House of Plenty

Written by Steve Goode

In the past 25 years of working in and around people in a variety of situations I have been pondering some of the significant trends that I have observed. As a police officer I spent many hours in the midst of conflict and crisis trying to bring issues to at least some temporary absolution. If you wonder what I mean by this, as an officer you are trying to resolve the issue for the evening or day, long enough to stop the parties from killing each other so that you could move onto the next call for police service.  I am not saying I liked doing it this way, but that’s just how it works in the real world. It never was my job to change someone’s heart, which is the only real way to a permanent solution, and I accepted long ago that only the work of Jesus Christ could accomplish such an ominous task. It was almost a comfort to grasp this principle because I knew I could only solve so much in one evening, and that it wasn’t my job to fix the people involved. My primary frustration stemmed from the fact that the people involved almost never grasped this principle!

As I reflect and consider all the homes I visited as a police officer, and even the people who have visited me as Christian counselor, there are trends, and commonalities that do not fall into the category of coincidence. I also believe that I witnessed enough to dispel some of the myths that the answer to happiness and peace may lie in the amount of money you have. This discussion is not exhaustive for the sake of length, but we will look at one particular area. Many times all that a lot of money and resources really does to a family is prolongs and desensitizes them to the urgent needs in their lives. It’s not that money, and resources are bad, but that it sometimes can subdue our sensitivity to the real meaning and purpose of our lives. It’s the same reason we have feeling in our hands, and fingers. If that feeling wasn’t there we could leave our hands on the stove until we smelled burning flesh. Money and resources can sometimes just prolong the issues in our lives that are slowly and deliberately sucking the very life out of us both emotionally and spiritually.

A good example of this is found in the story of the Rich man and the poor man Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31) The Rich man never realized his need until it was too late. He had everything he needed at his fingertips! He had servants, gold, the best food, and much more. Why would he look to the God who created him for anything? Maybe he was just waiting to be tested by God at some point in his life, and the testing never came. Maybe the test was to see if he would realize who allowed him to possess all he owned and become grateful to God for his lot in life! In any case it appears he never thought it to be necessary to reflect and worship God, because he was happy to live with plenty for the realized short-term gain he received. You could say he was no different than the “instant-gratification” crowd which wants a quick fix, but no commitment or accountability that would take some intentional effort. If you have never met someone like this go to any church this Sunday and you will find hundreds of them. (James 1:9)

You may think I just wrote this scathing piece to belittle and scold the evil rich people, but I didn’t write this for them at all. In fact I have many Christ serving and Godly friends who most likely have more money in their wallets than I have in my 401-K and bank account combined. There are many good Christian people with a giving heart who desire to do for others before themselves and this article wasn’t written to address them. This article was targeted to those of you who spend more time using phrases such as “If only we had more” or “If God just takes care of our money situation we will be more faithful to Him.” I am writing to those who may currently be in a family conflict or poor spiritual condition, and I am going to ask you to consider the utterly ridiculous.

We need to thank God everyday that he allows us to go through tough times whether financial or emotional. As crazy as it may seem to those who are hurting, there is a plan and purpose for your circumstances. Many rich and well resourced people may not see there immediate need, but you have the opportunity to experience, and make the necessary surrender that Christ requires of you. You have a chance to grow and mature in your Christian walk and see your faith blossom in a way that can only come through reliance on Jesus Christ!

Maybe you are one of those who’s financial and emotional world is falling apart around them and you can barely see an exit, but rejoice that this is a time of great opportunity in your life! With breath in your lungs and a relationship with Jesus Christ you can make it through your dark feelings of depression and despair! Realize that you have clearly seen that you do not have the strength to make it through your circumstances, which means you are going to have to totally rely on Christ alone! (Philippians 4:11-13; James 1:1-9)

What to Do When You Are Afraid!

Many people are paralyzed by their fears, even children. In this devotion Stephen Goode speaks to a group of preschool-First graders, and remarkably you may find an adult lesson hidden in the scripture passages of this devotion.

Audio Link Below

http://www.trumpetforgod.org/audio/20141007/what-do-when-you-are-afraid

Understanding Your Salvation

Do you really think you grasp what Salvation is? What is the Gospel and how does it impact every facet of your life. In the link below, Stephen Goode explains the purpose of the Gospel in our Christian life.

Stephen Teaches on Salvation

http://www.trumpetforgod.org/audio/20140901/understanding-your-salvation

 

I Sinned and Everybody Knows It, Now What?

by Stephen Goode
5 Biblical Tips on How to Respond

Many Times we Think Our Sin Remains in Secret, but no sin is secret

Whether each of us wishes to be honest with ourselves or not, we all have a secret sin or struggle  in our life that we hope no one ever exposes. For those in high school it may be something we took, lied about, or did with another classmate. For adults it may be ethics, lying, or even an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker.  We all have secrets that we would do anything to keep hidden from the world forever.

But What if My Sin has Been Made Public?

Whatever your circumstances may be, your world feels as though it is literally crumbling. You wish you could just wipe the slate clean, and start over. It would surely beat re-living your sin in your head every single time something reminds you of it. This begs the simple question of how you should handle the fact that your sin has been exposed.

5 Biblical Tips on How to Respond

Remember that God’s Grace Never Leaves You – When our sin is exposed, people tend to seem much more judgmental and condemning. They go from living in a world of gray to seeing everything in a sharp world of black and white. In these moments don’t lose sight of the fact that when people seem to have left you, God’s grace has remained. Don’t let the sinful responses of others toward your sin lead you to more sin. (Rom 5:8; Ps 51:3; Rom 3:23)

Own Your Sins and Failures – In the midst of embarrassment it is easy to become defensive and angry. You just want people to back off and give you space, and you are most certain that there is a story behind each judgmental look and glance you receive. It can become hard to admit your sins and failures when it appears everyone has already made their mind up.

One of the evidences of our sorrow for our actions is demonstrated through our humility. An obvious sign we are not sorrowful is when we stay in a pride-filled and defensive place. The consequences of our sin may be the sinful way people are responding around you, but this doesn’t give you a pass to act the same way. OWN YOUR SIN! (James 4:6)

Counsel with Godly People – Even though confession is good for the soul, it doesn’t mean to share your sorrow with everyone you meet. Keep your wise counsel to a very tightly knit person or two, but do not feel the need to share your sin with the world. If you are a public figure there may be a need to handle your disclosures a little differently, but for normal everyday people, keep your confidants tightly knit. Seek the counsel of Biblical and godly people who will lead you with biblical principles as opposed to pragmatism.

It is also important to counsel with someone you totally trust. This person will need full disclosure from you, and you cannot hide one detail from them. Healing will not begin until ALL secrets are extinguished.  (Proverbs 12:15)

Do Not Lie – It may be necessary at times to not say anything, before backing yourself into a corner and lying. When people are accusing and badgering you at school, or at work, it may feel like you need to fix the situation by redirecting the people away from your sin. You may try and do this by flinging verbal mud at them or skewing the truth. The easiest way to avoid these temptations is to say nothing. It can even sometimes lead us to an outright lie when we feel there is no other alternative. Jesus gave us the best example of how to respond when he chose not to respond to the Pharisees as they continued to falsely accuse Him. Even before Pilot, Jesus chose not to utter long and drawn out explanations, and we can learn from this. (Is 52:13)

Lying or feeling the need to explain ourselves is sometimes our way to take control of what God is already handling. This is why it is so important to have strong accountability in your life to avoid the temptation of lying and being deceptive.

Endure through Your Sin Being Exposed and Don’t Repeat – Enduring through an embarrassing season in your life is hard and difficult. You feel people will never look at you the same again, but let me give you some hope. You think that your sin was the focus of this whole exercise, but in reality, it never was! It was always about your response to your sinful actions! People will sin everyday thinking they will never be under any more scrutiny for what they did. It just so happens in your case, that everyone found out. It may seem that all they are concerned with is your sin, but why not use this moment to show them how a Christian responds to sin in their life?

Many people have responded dreadfully to the exposures of their sins and failures both inside and outside of the church. We have witnessed company CEO’s, and CFO’s commit suicide from their shame. We have witnessed college and professional athletes live a life of lies and deceit.

In fact I believe the noblest act Lance Armstrong ever performed occurred when he confessed his illegal steroid use to the world. As painful as it may have been to lose everything, he gained much more through his confession.

What is your secret sin? I have some bad news if you think it is really secret. It’s not secret to God. He knows everything about you inside out, and desires for you to respond in a way that brings healing and restoration to your life.

You will make it through your sinful season if you surrender all of your secrets to God, and re-commit your obedience to Him. You can’t avoid the consequences of all the people you hurt, but obedience can bring a new and lasting peace in your broken life.

About the Writer
Stephen Goode a.k.a. the Cop-Counselor, is the author of Marriage Triage, A Guide to Healing for the Hurting Spouse, He is a marriage author/speaker. He spent 11 years as a police officer in North Carolina, and has been a contributor to Discovery ID and Fox News. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Stephen enjoys mixing dry-humor with biblical teachings to make the learner walk away with practical tools to endure through their Christian life and Marriage!

Always Be On Guard!

By Steve Goode

Steve served as a police officer on the Greensboro Police Department from 1986-1997. This article is from Steve’s personal reflections and opinions, and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the present day Department.

What does a police officer do to keep busy at two in the morning on a weekday? In an effort to keep the thin blue line secure I will refrain from telling you everything, but I can assure you there is always something to do, to avoid nodding off to sleep behind the wheel.

It was the winter of 1989 and I had been a Greensboro NC police officer for almost two years. I was assigned to the west side of town and had just left a coffee break near interstate 40 and West Wendover Avenue. It was a great place to work at night and there were a variety of things to do such as work traffic, and check buildings. Our primary duty was to answer our calls for police service, but this night had been rather quiet. Too quiet. (I always wanted to use that line in an article. Now my writing career is complete.)

I was caught up on all my accident, and investigative reports, and quite frankly, my eyelids were getting heavy at two in the morning and I needed something to stimulate my curiosity. I already had the window rolled down in the cold weather, and I was afraid to play the car radio too much louder out of fear of not hearing my police radio. As I rode east then west on Wendover Avenue near the postal bulk mail center, a west bound dark colored older model two door Chevy Monte Carlo with a burned out headlight caught my eye. There were two teen looking boys in the car, and their eyes got as big as saucers when they passed me. Something just didn’t seem right about them although the only offense I had was improper equipment for the burned out headlight. Having nothing else on my plate at that moment I chose to investigate a little further. I turned around, got behind the Monte Carlo, and picked up my radio microphone to call in a traffic stop. I had no way to know what I was on the brink of encountering all because of my curiosity.

I activated my bluelights as I called in the description, and tag number to communications. It appeared we were going to be pulling off into a small driveway directly in front of the postal bulk mail center. It was a rather odd place to stop because the driver of the Monte Carlo had no place to exit or pull away with my police car directly behind him. Maybe he was not up to anything so there was no need for him to make a way of escape. Whatever the driver’s mindset may have been, I could not simply assume the best because I had to keep my guard up, and I was still very ill-at-ease about this particular traffic stop.

I stepped out of my police car and carefully surveyed the movements and gestures of driver and passenger trying to see where their hands were resting. They didn’t appear to be scrambling or overly figiting, which was good. I approached the drivers window with the utmost caution trying not to focus on either the driver or passenger too long. I had to be alert. I can honestly say at this point that any concern I had over staying awake was long gone.

I stayed back from the driver’s window which forced him to look over his left shoulder just to see me. My flashlight was partially blinding him from getting a good look at me which gave me a small safe advantage if he was armed. He already had his driver’s license ready and I told him I was stopping him for the burned out headlight. The driver didn’t appear terribly nervous, but the passenger seemed very concerned.He seemed even more concerned when I recognized him. I had been his school bus driver years earlier! Still, I did not see the connections to anything criminal yet.

I was examining the driver’s license and noticed the driver had not given me the registration to the car he was driving. I sometimes let this one go because I can run the license tag, but this time I asked the driver to give it to me. He reached for the glove box and as a precaution I slowly moved my right hand to the handle of my Berretta 92 pistol which was currently in my safety-holster at my side. When the driver opened the glovebox several twelve-gauge shotgun shells fell out onto the passenger floorboard!

At this point I started feeling the adrenaline beginning to pump, and asked the driver to exit the vehicle and stand with me. I also asked him if he minded if I searched his car, and remarkably his only response was, “yes”. I called for an assist car and advised my communications person why. They rushed a car my way as I patted both driver and passenger down for weapons that may do me harm. Both were clean.

I directed the driver and passenger to stand in front of their car as I shined my light into it. The first thing that caught my eye was two ski-masks with eyeholes cut out, and two pairs of black gloves. I then noticed something that sent me over the edge of my red-alert mode.

I shined my light on the driver’s floorboard and noticed the wooden handle of something under the seat. I pulled the handle out and it was attached to a sawed-off loaded twelve gauge shotgun. I immediately placed the driver under arrest as my assist car arrived and motioned for my assist car to detain the passenger. By this time my adrenaline was in full pump and I had lost a partial bit of my hearing and had a low hum in both of my ears.

What I wasn’t aware of at the moment was that the tactical police squad had been staked out at the Wilco gas station on Wendover avenue less than a quarter of a mile from where I stopped these teenagers. The tact squad was staked out after getting a tip that the Wilco was going to be robbed. I had unknowingly stopped the very suspects who were moments away from committing armed robbery at a convenience mart!I would like to say that the tactical police squad was appreciative of my diligence, but that would not be true. I cut in on their effort that night and took quite a bit of excitement away from their quiet evening.

Keeping Alert as a Christian

You may ask what this has to do with our lives as Christians, and maybe some of you have already used the illustration in an applicable way. We each have a duty before God to stay alert, sober, and diligent to the schemes and plotting of Satan in our lives. Satan wants you to fall, and ultimately wants you to fail, but we must be ever-mindful of his cunning and coniving tactics. Just as I recognized the passenger in that car on that night, we fight and war with an enemy we know and are familiar with.

Peter warns us that Satan is just waiting for us to drop our guard and expose our weaknesses. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)

The night I encountered this situation I was tired and fatigued from a very long night, but I didn’t have the luxury of dropping my guard. As a believer in Jesus Christ you will find that Satan has your whole lifetime to wait for you to relax or drop your guard. He looks for those moments in your life where you don’t study the Bible or pray. He watches to find your weakness or weaknesses because he will not relent or ease up. Satan and his helpers are the most interested in finding where you will succumb to his attacks, and he doesn’t have to look that hard with many of us. Many Christians are immoral and willing participants to his schemes.

Satan needs no enhanced interrogation techniques to break you, all he needs is to observe and wait for his moment because he knows it will come.

Know Your Weakness and Confront it!

The night I encountered this situation my biggest enemy was fatigue. I could have easily ignored the car I stopped and done nothing, but it may have placed some of my brothers in blue in harms way even more than I. As Christians you must stay active and alert to your weaknesses and never give into complacency.

The Bible teaches us how to be ready in Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul teaches us step-by-step how to be prepared for Satan’s attacks. Always be ready and alert because even the most “spiritual” person you know can become weak if they become slack or tired. Always be prepared to take defensive measures in your everyday activities. If you are prone to inappropriate relationships then take measures to cease what makes you fall. If you are an addict then seek out the right Biblical help and get accountability in your life. This list could go on, but we must not give in or give up!

What Has God Revealed to You?

by Stephen Goode

Just because there was a time Helen Keller didn’t understand water, didn’t make it any less real. Just because people don’t see or acknowledge God at work doesn’t mean he isn’t working. To the insensitive, “a sky” and they say “so what.” To those sensitive to the hand of God even the smallest natural functions are gazed upon with wonder.

Recently a person spoke to me of how they saw the numerous little ways God was working in their life and how awesome it was! I pray that we would all train our spiritual ears and eyes to be sensitive to the hand of God in the valley moments as well as the mountain top moments. (Jer 33:3)