DEBRIEFING PROGRAM FOR SOLDIERS, POLICE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS

 

REASON FOR SUFFERING

Why there is suffering

   God created Adam and Eve without sin (Gen. 1:31).

   Adam and Eve had the ability to sin and did sin (Gen. 3:1-7).

   God pronounced a curse on man for that sin. (Gen. 3:16-19).

   All mankind gained a sin nature (except Christ). Sin passed down to all generations and all sinned (Rom. 5:12, Rom. 3:23).

   Violence and death started with Adam and Eve’s children (Gen. 4:8).

   God said there would be tribulation (John 16:33).

   God gave up wicked men (Rom. 1:24-32) and they practiced their wickedness on others. This is one reason why people suffer.

   God delays judgment because the goodness of God leads one to repentance (Rom. 2:4). While God waits for the wicked to repent, the violence continues (Eze. 18:21-24). The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

   God allows the righteous and wicked to grow up together as in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43). Judgment will occur when Christ returns.

 

     God allowed sin because love cannot be forced. Love is a choice. God gave Adam and Eve the choice to love Him. When they chose not to show love to Him, it brought sin. God commands people to love Him and others (Matt. 22:37-40). When people choose not to love, it brings forth sin and suffering (John 14:21, 23, 24). It is not the victim’s fault or the fault of those who respond to the crisis that someone suffers (Ps. 59: 3, 4).

 

God’s Justice

   In the parable of the wheat and tares, the righteous and wicked will be separated for all eternity (Matt. 13:41-43).

   In John 3:16-21, that which determines whether someone is going to heaven or hell is faith or believing in the Son of God.

   Evil deeds come from unbelief and an unregenerate heart. Unbelievers will receive the wrath of God (John 3:36).

   Believers will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

   The wicked will be judged according to their works and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15; Rev. 21:8; Rom. 2:5-11).

   There will be no more pain and suffering in heaven (Rev. 21:1-7). Former things will be forgotten by us and God when God creates a new heaven and a new earth(Isa. 65:16-19).

 

WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?

Certainty of suffering:

What will we have in the world according to John 16:33? _________________________

To whom did death spread (Rom. 5:12)? _______________________________________

What will happen to all who will try to live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12)? _______

________________________________________________________________________

What must we go through to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22)? ________________

Reasons for suffering:

What is the reason Christians suffer in I Peter 3:13-17? ___________________________

What are two reasons people suffer according to I Peter 2:20? ______________________

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Why were the Christians sick, weak and dead (I Cor. 11:30-32)? ___________________

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According to Galatians 6:7, if a man sows wickedness and evil what will he receive? ___

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Why did God test in the furnace of affliction (Is. 48:10)? __________________________

Why does God sometimes bring trials our way (Deut. 8:2)? ________________________

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What does God do for those He loves (Heb. 12:6)? ______________________________

Why did Paul suffer affliction (1 Thes. 3:3, 4)? _________________________________

What has entered the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12)? __________________________

Where does every perfect gift come from (James 1:17)? __________________________

Benefits of suffering:

What benefit can come from our tribulation (2 Cor. 1:4)? _________________________

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Why was there affliction in Psalm 119:67 and Psalm 119:71? ______________________

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Why was the man born blind in John 9:1-3? ____________________________________

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Why does God chasten us (Heb. 12:10)? _______________________________________

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What do tribulations produce (Rom. 5:3-5; James 1:3)? ___________________________

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What benefit is there in weakness and infirmities (2 Cor. 12:8-10)? _________________

What can God do with all things (Rom. 8:28)? __________________________________

 

   God can make all things work together for good, if we let Him. When 9/11 took place there were some who recognized their need for God and got saved. Our country as a whole became more patriotic. Is there something that God wants to do in your heart as a result of the tragedy you experienced? Let God make your heart tender rather than you turning it into hardness and bitterness.

 

ROLE OF AUTHORITY

   According to Romans 13:1, there is no other power but of God. The powers that exist are ordained of God. This means that human government was set up by God to do His work. Verse 1 says that we are to obey that authority. Verse 2 says that if we disobey that authority we will face judgment. Verse 3 says, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.” Government has a responsibility before God to punish evil doers. The ruler is the minister of God for good. The ruler is also “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (v.4). Those who work for the government are a part of that authority and have a God given responsibility to exercise God’s authority over man. When verse 4 says, “he beareth not the sword in vain” it means that the government has authority from God to punish evil doers and even to execute capital punishment (Gen. 9:5, 6). Romans 13:5-7 says that obedience, honor and taxes are to be rendered to government because they are God’s ministers for good.

   If you are under authority of government as a government official such as a police officer or soldier, you have the responsibility of carrying out the commands of your superior officers of that government. That government responsibility may include shooting or killing someone. If you end up hurting or killing someone in the line of duty, you are not responsible before God or your government for their harm of death. Because God set up government to execute judgment, God is the responsible one. When man steps beyond God’s given authority or makes laws contrary to God’s laws, then man is responsible. The commands of “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) and “avenge not yourselves” (Rom. 12:19) are given to individuals, not to government or government officials acting in official capacity.

   If you are feeling guilty for harming or killing someone in the line of duty, remember you were not responsible. Even if you were responsible, remember if you are a Christian all your sins have been nailed to the cross of Christ and those things which were against you have been blotted out (Col. 2:13, 14). Satan is an accuser (Rev. 12:10). He will accuse you of things that are not your fault or of things for which you are not responsible. Even in situations of accidental death or if you killed someone by accident, the Bible says that God is the one who takes the life (Ex. 21:13).

 

STRESS

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS

    The symptoms of post traumatic stress are often seen in combat soldiers and those responding to emergency situations such as police officers, emergency service workers and firemen. These effects are common among people who have experienced a traumatic event. The severity of the effects is based on a number of factors: the severity of the trauma, the length of duration, number of times the trauma occurred, the length of time repeated trauma was experienced, who did it, and how it happened.

 

What is Post Traumatic Stress?

   Post traumatic stress (PTS) occurs when a person experiences a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:

-The person experienced or witnessed or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury.

            -The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or terror.

 

Symptoms caused by Post traumatic stress

   The traumatic event is repeatedly re-experienced in any of the following ways:

-Returning and intrusive distressing memories of the event, including images, thoughts or perceptions;

            -Returning upsetting dreams of the event;

-Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring by reliving the experience through illusions, hallucinations, and flashback episodes, including those upon awakening or when intoxicated;

-Intense psychological distress or reactivity upon memories of the traumatic event.

   PTS causes persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma) as indicated by at least three of the following:

            -Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the trauma;

-Efforts to avoid activities, places or people that trigger memories of this trauma;

            -Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma;

            -Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities;

            -Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others;

            -Restricted range of affect (i.e., unable to have loving feelings);

-Sense of a foreshortened future (i.e., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span).

   PTS causes persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma) as indicated by a least two of the following:

            -Difficulty falling or staying asleep

            -Irritability or outbursts of anger

            -Difficulty concentrating

            -Hyper-alertness

            -Exaggerated startle response

   The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning by:

-Reliving the event: through recurring nightmares or intrusive images that occur at any time.

-Avoiding reminders of the event including places, people, thoughts or other activities associated with the trauma.

-Being on guard or hyper-alert at all times, including feeling irritable or sudden anger, having difficulty sleeping or a lack of concentration, being overly alert or startled.

 

Physiological effects of Post traumatic stress:

-Shrinkage of brain tissue in the hippocampus region can bring on short term memory loss as well as distortion and fragmentation of memories.

-Decreased blood flow to the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain, which regulates emotional and fear responses, may result in the continuation of fear.

Psychiatric Symptoms:

            -Alcoholism

            -Drug abuse

            -Depression

            -Anxiety

            -Panic attacks

            -Isolation

            -Sleep disorders

            -Suicide

 

Effects of traumatic event:

            -Shatters world view

            -Unable to finalize events, dissociated during the event

            -Fearful of a future event similar in nature

            -Fearful they will not be able to respond

            -Stuck in the way they tell the story

            -Dwell in the negative

            -Loss of control

            -Shattered view of self, others or the world

 

   Perceptual Distortions in Combat from Deadly Force Encounters by Dr. Alexis Artwohol & Loren Christian based on a Survey of 141 officers.

            85% diminished sound

            16% intensified sound

            80% tunnel vision

            74% automatic pilot (scared speechless)

            74% heightened visual clarity

            65% slow motion time

            7% temporary paralysis

            51% memory loss for parts of the event

            47% memory loss for some of own actions

Post Combat Responses: BODY

            Trembling

            Nausea

            Thirsty

            Upset stomach

            Nightmares

            Sweating

            Hyperventilation

            Chills

            Dizziness

            Diarrhea

            Sleep disturbance

            Urge to urinate

            Jumpy, hyper

Post Combat Responses: EMOTIONS

            Preoccupied with the event

            Reliving it over and over in your mind

            Second guessing yourself and others

            Feeling like you did something wrong

            Guilt

            Doubting abilities

            Doubting willingness to do your job

            Angry

            Irritable

            Hypersensitive

            Anxious

            Feeling vulnerable

            Worried and/or scared

            Self-conscious

            Paranoid

            Afraid of being judged by others

            Glad to have survived, but feeling guilty if others were injured or killed

            Sad, despondent, crying

            Numb, robot-like, unnaturally calm

            Alone, isolated, alienated from others

            Heightened emotions including joy and sex drive

Post Combat Responses: THOUGHTS

            Dazed

            Confused

            Difficulty concentrating

            Memory impairment

 

Forms of PTS

            Single traumatic event

                        natural: tornado, flood, etc.

            Prolonged repeated trauma

                        natural

hostage-taking, political prisoner, POW, victimization, i.e., child sexual abuse

            Vicarious

                        exposure to “near miss” traumatic experiences

 

Estimated levels or risk for developing Post traumatic stress

            -Rape 49%

            -Severe beating or physical assault 31.9%

            -Other sexual assault 23.7%

            -Shooting or stabbing 15.4%

            -Sudden, unexpected death of a family member or friend 14.3%

            -Child’s life-threatening illness 10.4%

            -Witness to a killing or serious injury 7.3%

            -Natural disaster 3.8%

 

Precursors prior to a trauma which place an individual at higher risk for PTS

            Adverse life events prior to the trauma

            Depression

            Developmental and family instability

            Early substance abuse

            History of prior psychiatric help

            Absence of social supports

            Age

            Gender: boys more susceptible to stressors, such as divorce, than girls

 

Skills Acquisition to Relieve Stress:

-Learning breathing exercises, to relax during stressful situations and afterward

            -Desensitization: training under situations which are realistic

            -Reframe thoughts so that they accurately represent the situation

 

 

CAUSES OF STRESS

     The cause of stress can be summed up in one word “change.” The bigger the change the more stress there is. Change with the death of a loved one, divorce, legal problems, injury or illness, marriage, work or living situation, finances, family, habits, assaults, and responsibilities all cause stress.

 

Stress Assessment

     Identify where stress is coming from. You can reduce stress by identifying its source and by accepting the fact that there is nothing you can do about it when it is out of your control. If it is in your control, you can make changes to relieve the stress.

     Figure out what your role is. If a rainy day is stressing you out, ask what your role is in that rainy day. Because the weather is out of your control, accept the rain as the way it is rather than getting angry over it. You do have control of the activities you do on a rainy day. Your role is to make the best of a rainy day, not to change the weather. Accept what you cannot change and make the most of what you can change. Identify what is your responsibility and what is someone else’s. Too often, we worry about what is someone else’s responsibility or what is God’s responsibility. By leaving other’s responsibilities to them instead of taking it upon ourselves, we reduce our stress. Reducing the number of responsibilities or changing types of responsibilities may reduce stress. Focus on what is your responsibility, not what is out of your control, and know the difference.

     Know and acknowledge your limitations. God made everyone with strengths and weaknesses. God does not expect you to do more than your best. If you are doing what God wants you to do right now, God will take care of everything else (Matt. 6:34). Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 gives what God required of His people.

     Make sure you are in the center of God’s will right now. Are you where you are supposed to be and doing what God wants you to be doing right now? If yes, then trust that God will take care of everything else.

 

Stress reduction

Cast your cares on God (I Pet. 5:7)

Pray (Phil 4:6-7)

Think of peaceful things (Phil. 4:8, 9)

Read your Bible (Ps. 119:49, 50)

Take a break and think

Evaluate its importance - if it is not important, do not worry about it

Breathing exercises - take slow deep breaths, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale slowly

Muscle relaxation, warm baths, massage

Exercise for at least 20 minutes or more three times weekly

Stretching exercises

Sex

Laughter

Ask for help

Assertiveness

Nap, good night sleep, rest

Getting out of a rut

Singing

Hobby

Soft music

Count your blessings instead of your difficulties

Crying

Eating nutritious meals

Vacation

 

How to Handle Memories    

     Avoid books and movies that are scary and deal with violence and other issues that trigger memories of the traumatic event. Judge what you expose yourself to by Philippians 4:8, 9.

     If memories occur, turn them into positive things. Thank God the trauma is over. Use it to remind yourself to pray for your safety. Thank God that He will bring justice. Look forward to seeing how God will work it out to good according to Romans 8:28. Think about the benefits of suffering. Ask God to make you a better person from it. Thank God that He can make you righteous through Christ’s sacrifice. Prayer helps ease memories. Learn to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. Renew your mind according to Romans 12:2. You can renew your mind by filling it with Scripture. Remember, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”(2 Cor. 5:17).

     Many people find healing by facing the memories and dealing with them. A goal should be to accept the fact that the event occurred rather than suppressing or running from it. The mind has a need to resolve issues. Our minds will keep thinking through an issue until it is resolved. If we don’t allow our minds to resolve an issue, we can develop emotional or mental problems. Writing out what is going through your mind helps the healing process.

 

What to do for nightmares

     Pray that God would take them away. Read your Bible before going to sleep. Align your thoughts with Philippians 4:8, 9. Remind yourself that it is in the past and you are safe now. Remember nightmares can’t harm you physically (Ps. 127:1, 2; Ps. 4:8). If it is Satan who is causing nightmares, rebuke Satan (Jude 9). Reducing stress also helps reduce nightmares.

 

GRIEVING

Emotions in grieving

     The soldiers and people who respond to emergencies have many painful memories, emotional pain and grief. Any time we experience great trauma, there is a grieving process afterward. When there is sustained trauma such as in war or repeated crisis, a person may go into denial or state or shock. In this state they suppress the memory and the emotion, so it seems as if they are handling it fine. The reality and the emotions kick in when the shock wears off. This may happen years later.

     When a person is grieving, he may go through many different emotional experiences. The following are possible experiences that may take place during the grieving process. Not everyone grieves the same way and not everyone will experience these symptoms.

Shock - Shock is being stunned, where the full impact of the trauma is not felt or experienced. This reaction saves the person from experiencing too much painful reality at once. This is a temporary state and the emotions may take effect, full force, at a later time. The length of time that a person stays in shock varies. For some it may be years and some try to prolong the shock effects by suppressing the emotional pain.

Crying - Crying is acceptable in adults. It is acceptable for both men and women to cry. At the death of Lazarus in John 11:33-35, there was much weeping. Verse 35 says, “Jesus wept.” Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Anger - Anger may be directed at the enemies, self, God or all three. Anger needs to be resolved (Eph. 4:26). Anger may be exhibited toward everyone or anyone.

Guilt - Guilt may be felt if the soldier, police officer or emergency worker feels that he was partly to blame for the incident. Guilt also comes if the individual feels he could have done something to change his own actions or the outcome of the incident. It is good to talk these feelings out. Guilt is dealt with later.

Panic - Panic comes from a lack of emotional control. Panic may come from the inability to organize daily activities or the inability to control activities.

Physical symptoms - Physical symptoms may be real or imagined. Physical symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, sighing, pain, shortness of breath, and tightness of muscles.

Presence of the deceased - It is common for a person to dream of the deceased, to hear his voice, or to hear footsteps. Talking about your fears and these symptoms helps them go away.

Bitterness - Bitterness develops when a hate and resentment is focused on an enemy over time. How to get rid of bitterness will be dealt with later.

Depression - Depression can come from a focus on your loss, circumstances and yourself. Some depression is a part of everyone's life. Depression should lessen over time. Depression will be covered later in this lesson.

Loneliness - Loneliness comes from feeling that no one will listen and no one understands and from feeling you are alone in your problem. Fear of people and future trauma will make a person withdraw from people, which only enhances loneliness.

 

Stages in Grieving

     Though there are many emotions in the grieving process, the grieving process unfolds in stages. Not everyone grieves the same way. Not everyone will experience all these stages nor for the same length of time. They may not experience them in this order and may regress for a time to a previous stage.

Denial stage - This is the emotional numbing stage. The mind may totally blank out the traumatic experience. A person may purposely try to suppress memories to avoid the emotional pain. A person may try to be macho by saying it doesn’t affect him, when it really does or saying that the traumatic event wasn’t that bad when it really was. When the trauma was a result of sinful acts, believing that men are sinners in the eyes of God, and are capable of the most vile acts will help you to get through this stage. Read Romans 3:9-20 to find out what God thinks of everyone’s sin.

Isolation - A person may withdraw from people. This may partially come from fear of people. It comes from a refusal to be comforted. It may mean that he just wants time to think. Isolation may be a sign of selfishness (Prov. 18:1). Isolation may lead to depression.

Anger - Anger can be a stage of grief as well as an emotion. It helps to identify why we are angry and to try to resolve it. It helps when we accept that God knows what He is doing and that He has the right to allow what He allows to happen (Rom. 9:20-24). More on the subject of “Anger” will be covered later.

Depression - This stage may come with a deep sense of loss. Fatigue and the length of grieving will make the depression worse. A feeling of hopelessness may deepen and prolong this stage. This course can help to give you hope to leave this stage.

Acceptance - Acceptance of the abuse comes after the denial, isolation, anger and depression stages are resolved. Acceptance does not mean that it was all right for someone to cause harm. Acceptance comes when the memory of the incident no longer frightens, causes anger, causes embarrassment, bitterness, hurt or guilt. In some cases there needs to be a realization that you were an innocent victim of someone else’s cruelty.

      Getting stuck in one of these stages of grieving can be a contributing cause of mental illness and physical depletion.

FORGIVENESS

Bitterness

     Bitterness is formed from a prolonged negative attitude toward someone or something. It comes from having an unforgiving spirit. Bitterness mostly hurts the one who is bitter. Bitterness robs a person of happiness, better relationships, and health. Hebrews 12:15 speaks of “any root of bitterness.” Bitterness affects one’s body, attitude, actions, and thinking. The verse says that it troubles you and defiles you. Ephesians 4:31 says we are to put away bitterness. We put away bitterness by forgiving and loving.

 

Guilt

   The feeling of guilt can come from a number of sources. Of course it could come from having a wrong thought or action.

   A guilty feeling can come from Satan. He is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). He will try to convince us of guilt when we have done nothing wrong. He will also try to convince us of guilt for something we have already repented of and confessed to God. God says that if we have confessed a sin He has cleansed us of it (I John 1:9). Memorize I John 1:9 and quote it at times when you feel guilty for a confessed sin. You only have to confess a sin once. Then believe God that you are cleansed.

   Guilty feelings can come from a faulty conscience or wishing you had done things differently. You can only do your best. You should not feel guilty when your best did not seem to be enough. Sometimes you can learn information after the event that would have changed your actions during the event. You cannot live in the future. When you love God you have to believe God will work it out for good (Rom. 8:28).

    Every person will receive his punishment or reward according to wickedness or righteousness (Eze. 18:20). If you are not sure whether you are guilty, confess it to God and then believe that God has cleansed you.

 

God forgives you

Who has forgiven us in Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13? ______________________

How many of our trespasses are forgiven (Col. 2:13; Ps. 103:3)? ___________________

What happened to our sins (Col. 2:14)? ________________________________________

Through what do we have forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7)? _________________________

What happens if we confess our sins (I John 1:9; Ps. 32:5)? ________________________

________________________________________________________________________

How far has God removed our transgressions from us (Ps. 103:12)? _________________

________________________________________________________________________

Does God remember our sins (Jer. 31:34)? _____________________________________

What two things do those who are sanctified by faith in Christ receive (Acts 26:18)? ____

________________________________________________________________________

We forgive others

What did Jesus want God the Father to do (Luke 23:34)? __________________________

What are we to do if we have anything against anyone (Mark 11:25)? _______________

What are we not to do in Romans 12:19? ______________________________________

Why are we not to avenge ourselves (Rom. 12:19)? ______________________________

How often are we to forgive someone (Matt. 18:21-22)? __________________________

Do you think you have forgiven someone if you keep track of how many times you have forgiven them? _____________

If your brother sins against you and he repents what are you to do (Luke 17:3)? ________

What are we commanded to do in Luke 6:36? __________________________________

In what way are we to forgive others (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13)? _______________________

What is the glory of a man (Prov. 19:11)? ______________________________________

How are we to treat those who are nasty toward us (Matt. 5:44)? ____________________

________________________________________________________________________

What happens when we forgive others (Matt. 6:14)? _____________________________

What happens when we do not forgive others (Matt. 6:15)? ________________________

 

   Forgiveness is a decision on our part to not hold a person’s offense against him any longer. We decide not to hold their sins against them anymore.

   There are many who have a hard time believing that God can forgive them. Many of these same people believe that God can forgive their enemy or the person who wronged them and did worse things. The one who purposely opposes God and His will has greater sin, yet God can forgive him. If God can forgive His enemies, He will also forgive you, if you ask in faith.

 

ANGER

Where does anger rest (Eccl. 7:9)? ___________________________________________

What is the person who is angry with his brother in danger of (Matt. 5:22)? ________________________________________________________________________

Who has great understanding (Prov. 14:29)? ____________________________________

What is anger (Prov. 27:4)? _________________________________________________

What should be put away from you (Eph. 4:31)? ________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

What must you put off (Col. 3:8)? ____________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

What does an angry man do (Prov. 29:22)? _____________________________________

Who will suffer punishment (Prov. 19:19)? ____________________________________

What does a soft answer do (Prov. 15:1)? ______________________________________

What does a harsh word do (Prov. 15:1)? ______________________________________

What are we not to do when we are angry (Eph. 4:26)? ___________________________

When are we to stop being angry (Eph. 4:26)? __________________________________

What do wise men turn away (Prov. 29:8)? _____________________________________

He who is slow to anger is better than who (Prov. 16:32)? _________________________

What makes a man slow to anger (Prov. 19:11)? ________________________________

Who are we not to make friends with (Prov. 22:24)? _____________________________

    There is a righteous anger and an unrighteous anger. An unrighteous anger comes when we do not get our way or is caused by our selfishness. A righteous anger is when we are angry because an injustice has been done. Even in a righteous anger, we are to be in control of ourselves and not sin.

   Some have taught that the best way to deal with anger is to find constructive ways to express the anger. The Biblical way is to resolve the anger. Figure out what makes you angry, then learn the Biblical way of handling it. If our anger is toward our enemy, we need to transfer and release the right and the responsibility for his punishment over to God. Let Him deal with it (Rom. 12:17-21).

 

DEPRESSION

   Depression happens to everyone at one time or another. Depression has many causes. One of the major reasons for depression is selfishness or dwelling on yourself and your problems. Colossians 3:1-4 says that we are to be seeking things above and that our life is hidden with Christ in God. Our thoughts need to get off ourselves and onto Christ and what He said He will do.

   Jonah, the wayward prophet, became depressed and angry in Jonah 4:3, 8, 9. The reason Jonah was angry and depressed was because he did not get his way (Jonah 3:10-4:3, 8, 9). God tried to get him out of his depression by getting him to focus on the children of the city and the animals instead of his own sinful desires (Jonah 4:1, 11). Self-centeredness led to Jonah’s depression. Other sins can also lead to depression.

  Losing hope or unmet expectations can also lead to depression (Prov. 13:12). The feeling that there is no hope of healing or things getting any better can lead to depression. That is why we must continually keep our focus on Jesus and what He wants us to do (Heb. 12:1-3). At the end of Hebrews 12:3, it says, “lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” This wearied and faint in your minds can include depression, worries, fear, despair and hopelessness. See also Galatians 6:9, 10 and Isaiah 26:3. It helps to obey the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:36-40).

   Read I Kings 19. What led up to Elijah’s wanting to die? It was right after a victory or high (18:38-39), after a violent experience (19:1), after his life was threatened (v. 2), when he was physically fatigued (vv. 3, 4), when he was alone, doubting, believing a falsehood, dwelling on sad things, overwhelmed, and thinking of self (v. 10).

   What helped Elijah get out of depression? It was conversing with the Lord (1 Kings 19:13-15), having responsibility and things to do (vv. 15, 16), being distracted from thinking about self (vv. 15-21), being given truth about reality (v.18), and being given help (v. 21).

 

FEARS

   The Bible tells us over 100 times not to fear. Maybe the reason it tells us so often is that we have a tendency to be fearful. Constant fears and violence teach a person that he cannot trust people. The lack of trust makes a person suspicious of what people might do to him. Having lived in fear in the past makes a person fearful that it may happen again. Constant living in uncertainty causes a great deal of emotional pain.

   The best way to combat fear is through love. I John 4:17, 18 says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

   God is sovereign. He also allows evil during this present age. God also loves you and will work everything for good to those who love God. God loves you as much as He loves Jesus Christ (John 17:23). The more we understand and believe the love God has for us the more we can trust Him. Learning about God’s love is a growing process. The more we understand God’s plan, power, provision and protection the less reason we have reason to fear. Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior through faith, we are given the Holy Spirit who is our guarantee that we belong to God. As God’s possession, we are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). When you believe that God loves you, that God is sovereign, and that He has your best interests in mind, you will have the confidence that whatever happens to you will be for the best. When you believe that everything is for the best, there is no reason to fear. Paul can then go on to say in Roman 8:17, 18, "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Paul knew that God’s blessings so far exceeded the sufferings of this world that he could glory in tribulation (Rom. 5:3-5). We also can glory in our tribulation when we understand and believe the love and the good things God has for us. We can’t be fearful when we are excited about what good things God has in store for us.

   Not only can believing in God’s love for us and knowing that He has our best interests in mind take our fears away, but believing the promises of God takes fears away too. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Fears come from not knowing what will happen or anticipating the worst. People don’t fear when they anticipate good things. Do you believe Romans 8:28?

   Romans 8:28 also mentions that things work for good to those who love God. Our love of God, as well as God loving us, alleviates fears. When we love God, we seek His will for our lives and we keep His commandments. When we do this, God will not judge us; so, there is no reason to fear judgment. When we love God, we are in the center of His will; so, there is no fear of not receiving God’s best.

   Philippians 4:6, 7 and I Peter 5:7 give us another way to keep from being fearful, and that is prayer. When we cast our cares upon God, we need to leave them there. Too often we give our cares to God then take them back in our attitude. We worry too much about things we need to let God handle.

   God’s presence is another reason not to fear. Look up Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 118:6. God said in Hebrews 13:5 that He will never leave us nor forsake us. In Christ we have peace (John 16:33).

   The Scriptures also address the fear of bodily harm, death and man. Read Matthew 10:28-31. Man has nothing to do with our eternal destiny, so we should not fear someone killing us. Our focus should be on God who loves us and values us. Love is willing to sacrifice and suffer for a loved one, just as Jesus did for us. So, we also when God’s path calls us to suffer for Him, can be happy rather than fearful. We know His way is perfect and there is no reason to fear (I Pet. 3:14). We should have a love for God that is willing to take sacrifices and suffering for our beloved God. When we sacrifice for Jesus, the love casts out the fear. If we live the rest of our lives out of love for Jesus, our fears will go away.

   Fear of emotional pain is worse than physical pain. Some people have even cut and mutilated themselves in order to distract themselves from the emotional pain. Much of the emotional pain comes from despair and a lack of hope. Jesus is our hope (I Tim. 1:1). Loving God and believing His promises will take away the fear of emotional pain.

 

TRUSTING GOD

   For someone who has never known a trustworthy person, and who through violence and harm has learned not to trust anyone, trusting God is difficult. The ability to trust has to be learned. One must earn a person’s trust before a person will trust him. It is my prayer that you learn that God is trustworthy and that you are ready to trust Him.

   Proverbs 3:5, 6 says to trust in the Lord with all your heart. Trust speaks of dependence. We are to depend on God for everything including salvation. Notice it says to trust God with all your heart. We are to trust Him with all of our emotions and all our cognitive capabilities. The verse also says to lean not on your own understanding. The traumatized person may become convinced that he is unlovable, worthless and shameful. We cannot depend on what we think; but, we must trust what God says about us and everything else. When we acknowledge Him, and believe what He says, and give Him priority in our thinking, He will direct our paths. He will lead us through life.

   We need to trust God to meet our needs, both our physical and emotional needs. Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” He can meet our physical needs of food and clothing. He can also meet our emotional needs of love, companionship, and encouragement.

 

Giving God Control

   By way of creation, we all belong to God (Deut. 10:14). As Christians, we have been purchased by the blood of Christ; so, we belong to God (I Cor. 6:19, 20). God still commands us, as an act of our will, to present ourselves to Him (Rom. 12:1, 2). When we believe that our bodies and our whole being belong to God, then if we are traumatized or injured, it becomes God’s problem not ours. Remember that we are God’s property.

   Giving God control is one of the hardest things to do; but, it is also one of the most freeing. Because of the trauma, a person feels the need to be in control of his environment so that he can feel safe. Fear drives a person to control his environment. When the environment becomes out of his control, fear and panic may set in. Some people go into full panic attacks. Your attempt to control your environment is your attempt to play God in your life. That is a job that is better left to God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

   When a person is able to give control of his safety, environment and future to God, it relieves stress, fear and panic. Giving God control is freeing. It frees you of worries, fears and wasted energy spent trying to control your environment. It is freeing to say that it is God’s problem not mine; so, I’m not going to worry about it. It is good to make a list of the things that you have not relinquished control of to God. Then in prayer give each one of them to God to control. You may even ask Him to show you other things or other areas where you need to relinquish control. Remember Paul knew what it was like to suffer (2 Cor. 11:23-33).

 

LOVE

 

Love is a decision or attitude we make followed by action.

Feelings may or may not come with love.

Note: In the KJV Bible "love" is sometimes translated "charity."

What is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37, 38)? ____________________________

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What is the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39)? _________________________

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What is the greatest love we can show for another (John 15:13)? ____________________

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How did God commend His love toward us (Rom. 5:8; I John 3:16)? ________________

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How is love perfected in a person (I John 2:5)? _________________________________

How do we show our love to Christ (John 14:21, 23)? ____________________________

How much are we to love Christ (Matt. 10:37)? _________________________________

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Love is of ___________ (I John 4:7).

God is _____________ (I John 4:8).

Why do we love (I John 4:19)? ______________________________________________

Can a person love God and hate his brother (I John 4:20)? _________________________

What is the commandment we have from God (I John 4:21)? ______________________

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How will people know we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35)? _____________________

To what extent are we to love one another (John 13:34; 15:12)? ____________________

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What are we to stir up or provoke in one another (Heb. 10:24)? _____________________

How are we to love one another (I Pet. 1:22)? __________________________________

What can love do (I Pet. 4:8)? _______________________________________________

What should we do with love (I Cor. 16:14)? ___________________________________

To whom should we show love?

   Matthew 5:44 __________________________________________________________

   Ephesians 5:25 _________________________________________________________

   I Thessalonians 5:12-13 __________________________________________________

   Titus 2:4 ______________________________________________________________

   I Peter 2:17 ____________________________________________________________

   I John 5:1 ______________________________________________________________

What is the relationship of love to the law (Rom. 13:8-10)? ________________________

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What are the characteristics of love (I Cor. 13:4-7)? ______________________________

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Loving Enemies

   To display love when your attitude and feelings are not in it, decide to obey God by carrying out the very actions of love as given in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. You carry out these actions because you know God wants you to and because obedience is a step of faith. When it comes to loving your enemies, do it because you love God. Remember love is a decision. To love your enemies start carrying out the commands of Matthew 5:44. In other words, bless them, do good to them and pray for them.

   Christ’s strength can even help change a sinful attitude into a godly attitude. The context of Paul’s declaration, that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13), is that of contentment (Phil. 4:11) and rejoicing (Phil. 4:4). Remember Paul was in prison at the time he wrote this letter. When Paul first came to Philippi to preach the gospel, Paul was beaten and put in stocks (Acts 16:22-25). God can give us the strength to change bitterness to forgiveness, hate to love, anger to gentleness, and depression to rejoicing.

 

 FAMILY STRUCTURE

 

   When a person has experienced a severe trauma or is repeatedly exposed to bad situations, a persons whole outlook on life can change. When trauma or extreme stress on the job changes a person it also affects the family. A person should be able to lean on his family for support, but be careful you do not take your stress out on your family. Your family life is different from your career. The following will help you to know how to treat your family so your family becomes a place of refuge instead of added stress.

Marriage

   Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us the rules for the husband and wife in the marriage relationship. Ephesians 5:18 tells us how to have the power to fulfill those roles. Ephesians 5:18 says, “be filled with the Spirit.” To be filled with the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit. Fulfilling our Biblical role in the family is an outworking of the Spirit’s control over our lives.

   Before getting into the roles of wives and husbands, Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” Neither the husband nor the wife should try to lord it over the other.

   Ephesians 5:22 commands the wives to submit to their husbands. It is the wife’s responsibility to submit herself. It is not the husband’s responsibility to make her submit. The wife is to submit to her own husband, not to someone else’s husband. “As unto the Lord” means that you have a God-given responsibility to submit as long as your husband does not give a direct command to violate Scripture.

   Verse 23 says, “For the husband is the head of the wife.” The husband has the final say or authority in the home. This does not mean he is to be a dictator. God has given the husband the responsibility of the physical and spiritual welfare of the family. Because God has given the headship to the husband, the wife is to be subject to her husband (v. 24).

   Ephesians 5:25 commands husbands to love their wives. It is not the responsibility of the wives to make their husbands love them. Husbands are not to love someone else’s wife. The husband is to love his wife to the same extent as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church so much that he laid down his life for her. Verse 28 says that the husband ought to love his wife as his own body. It also says, “He that loveth his wife loveth himself. “ A husband ought to have the attitude that he would rather lose his arm than his wife. Verse 29 says, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” Just as we take care of ourselves and cherish ourselves, we ought to take care of our wives and cherish them.

   Verse 31 teaches that the husband and wife establish a separate family unit from their parents. The married couple should guard their marriage from extended family interference. The married couple becomes a unit. It is no longer “I” or “me” but “we” or “us.” Verse 33 concludes God’s teaching on marriage in the book of Ephesians.

   I Peter 3:1-6 gives instruction to wives who have unsaved husbands. The instruction to the wives can be applied to how a wife should treat her saved husband as well. Wives are to be subject to their husbands. In verses 1 and 2 the word conversation means conduct. The chaste conduct of the wife should draw her husband to Christ. She does not need to speak a lot, but her actions should say volumes about God’s power to help a person live a holy life. This should be coupled with fear; meaning she should have great respect for her husband.

   According to verses 3 and 4, a wife’s beauty should come from her inner character, not from her jewelry or hair style. She should have a meek and quiet spirit. God values the inner qualities rather than external beauty. Verses 5 and 6 give Sarah as an example of a godly wife from the Old Testament. Sarah trusted in God and obeyed her husband. “Be not afraid” at the end of verse 6 means to not be afraid of doing right in the eyes of God. It is having no fear of punishment for doing what is right.

   In verse 7, husbands are to dwell with their wives according to knowledge. In other words, they are to try and understand the needs of their wives and meet those needs. The husband is to give honor to his wife. In other words, he should treat her like a queen as she should treat him as a king. The wife being called the weaker vessel means she is generally smaller, has less strength and is more emotional. This does not mean she is inferior, but she is different. Husbands, remember that your saved wife will also be going to heaven; so, you should treat her as God’s property. Husbands, if you don’t treat your wives right, your prayer life will be hindered.

 

When life changing trauma hits

   Many emotions hit when trauma takes place and none of them are romantic. Trauma adds stress to a marriage. Dealing with evil people continually in a war situation or as a police officer, will teach a person that he cannot trust people or create suspicion. This can be carried into a marriage relationship. You need to trust your spouse until proven otherwise.

   A person who has gone through a traumatic event needs a listening ear. Your spouse may not understand what you experienced or what you feel. If you need a listening ear, ask your spouse’s permission to dump on him/her before doing so. This will help prepare your spouse and will set the tone for the conversation.

   Expectations may be different and may cause conflict. While a person may expect sympathy or comfort, he may not receive it. This can cause conflict. Your spouse may expect you to put it behind you and continue as normal while you cannot concentrated on anything except the trauma. The less you expect from your spouse the less you will be disappointed and the happier you will be with him/her.

   When disappointments and insults are given return a blessing (1 Pet.3:8, 9). Arguments start from returning evil for evil. If you return a blessings instead of evil, your relationship will remain close and intact. Remember your spouse is not your enemy and please don’t take your negative emotions out on your family.

 

Children

   According to Ephesians 6:1-4, children are to obey their parents. Full obedience means doing it immediately, completely, cheerfully, respectfully, and willingly. Honor should always be given by children toward their parents. God promises long life to those who honor their parents.

 

PARENTING

What are young women told to do (Titus 2:4)? __________________________________

What did Jesus command concerning the children (Matt. 19:14)? ___________________

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What are we to do for a child (Prov. 22:6)? _____________________________________

What happens to a child we train when he is old (Prov. 22:6)? ______________________

How are fathers to bring up their children (Eph. 6:4)? ____________________________

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What are fathers not to do to their children (Eph. 6:4)? ___________________________

What are we to teach our children (Deut. 4:9, 10)? _______________________________

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When should you speak of God’s Word to your children (Deut. 11:19)? ______________

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What are we to tell the next generation (Ps. 78:4)? _______________________________

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What shall the children be commanded to do (Deut. 32:46)? _______________________

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What does the parent who loves his son do for him (Prov. 13:24)? __________________

What are you to do for your son while there is hope (Prov. 19:18)? __________________

What are we not to withhold from a child (Prov. 23:13)? __________________________

   When a parent is put in a discipline situation with a child, the parent will generally react in the way with which he is familiar. That is normally the way that his parents treated him, whether it is good or bad. To break bad discipline habits, a parent must have a plan ahead of time how he will respond in a discipline situation. Writing out a chart with the offense and its disciplinary action may be helpful. Children should be told what is expected of them and what will happen if they violate rules. Remember, consistency is more important than severity. Spankings, though Biblical, should not be done in anger, out of selfishness, nor should they bruise the child. For older children, extra work or taking privileges away work well as discipline.

   A parent sometimes goes to the other extreme by not disciplining at all. This also is not good (Prov. 13:24).

   Remember, the goal in disciplining a child is to correct behavior, not to make the child’s life miserable because of what he did. The parent only needs to exercise enough discipline to get the child to do what is right. For the first offense, when the child does not understand that what he did was wrong, only a verbal warning with the consequences for the next time is in order.

 

By Pastor Todd R. Cook

mailto:combapt@execpc.com

 

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