faith, Family, Fortitude, Personal Development

How to Stop Worrying

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I recently woke up inspired to write the following journal entry. I hope it encourages and challenges you as it does me.

Worry says, “God is not big enough.” This is a terrible accusation for the Ultimate Creator of the universe who holds all things in this mighty hand. There is a pride and selfishness in worry that we don’t recognize. When we worry, we assume the burden only for ourselves. No one, not even God, can help us. “I must bear it all alone,” is the message we tell ourselves. Boo-hiss!

You, O Lord have saved us from our sins. Your promises are certain, you never fail. You tell us to cast our cares upon you, to take your light & easy yoke upon us, to trust you in everything, because you love us even more than we could love ourselves.

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When we worry, it should send a signal to our hearts that there is something to surrender to the Lord. The work of surrender should be our task – not the enduring or solving the thing we worry about. The surrender is the real work though. We must conquer our mind which wars against surrender and favors of our natural carnal survival instinct.

To be clear, surrender is not “giving up.” Not even close. I think of it more like a transfer of burden from me to God. Don’t we all want some help with our burdens?

Worry is often an unreasonable fear, in my opinion. Fear of the unknown, fear of the future. Remember being a kid when your parents made you try something new? It was scary at first, but since you trust them, you eventually go for it. Inevitably, it turns out great. So much fun, so much easier, so good, so tasty, etc. As parents we do the same for our kids too. We want the best for them. We want them to experience all that is good and enjoyable in the world. So why do we not trust God to do even more for us? Have we forgotten that God is our Heavenly Father and we are his beloved children?worry 2

Also, have you noticed how many times we worry over things that NEVER happen? We worry about the “what ifs” and we come up with some crazy ones, don’t we? Well, stop it. God wants the best for us and he actually knows the future. We should trust God and surrender our worry to his capable hands. #preachingtomyself

The antidote to worry is trust. Trust is only as good as the object for which the trust is placed. We have a choice to make in the face of our worry. Will we choose to trust ourselves and our lousy capacity to predict the future, or will we trust in God who knows everything and is in control of everything?

I understand that trusting in God is not easy. Denying ourselves is the opposite of our human nature. I often wrestle with surrendering to God. I’m convinced that my way is better. After I fall on my face, I realize that God’s way is always best. It might be hard to deny myself and trust God, but it is always best. Honestly, it is such a great relief to leave the “worrisome things” to God. It’s the best stress reliever.

FAST FORWARD 2 WEEKS

God has a funny way of making these type of life lessons come to life in real time for me. As I’m preparing this article, I get tested with some pretty stressful work situations. Instead of practicing what I’m writing about, I revert to my old nature and experience high stress with all its symptoms – exhaustion, irritability, upset stomach, loss of appetite and stress eating at the same time (yeah, that really happens to me), anger, depression, etc. Yuck. After a few days, I calmed down enough to realize what I was doing and made a mental adjustment. I transferred my burden to the Lord. Just as he promises, everything changed in my outlook. The circumstances haven’t changed, but my attitude and mindset did. Praise the Lord! The chains of the stress are gone and I am free to be my very best through the circumstances. #workinprogress #underconstruction

For some of you, these concepts about God may seem foreign or even offensive to you. You may have ways to cope with your worries that don’t involve God, and would say I’m weak or crazy. Maybe so. But I’m willing to bet that someday your way will not work, and whenever your Jedi mind trick or destructive behavior you try leaves you still looking for answers, remember this: The truth is that God loves you more than you could ever know, and His great desire is for you to know Him and experience all the freedom, peace, and good that comes with a personal relationship with God. I would love to talk with you about how you can enjoy freedom from worry through a personal relationship with the God of the universe.

 

     “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due          time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

faith, Family

6 Truths About The Role of Moms

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“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln 

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” Billy Graham 
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” George Washington

Mother. Every time a child is born – so is a mother. It has often been said that in that one moment when a mother sees her newborn child for the first time, nine months of discomfort and the hours of pain and delivery are completely forgotten. An innate eternal bond is instantly formed that transcends and eclipses all other relationships.

The word “mother” is used nearly 300 times in the Bible, and Strong’s Concordance tells us that the word literally means “an intimate relationship… that bestows benefits on another.” 

M-O-T-H-E-R. When thinking about how to describe those benefits bestowed on us by our mothers, this acronym gives us just a glimpse of the depth of who she is.

Mom. The proverbial “first word” of an infant often sounds like “ma” or “mama”. This strong association of that sound with “mother” has persisted in nearly every language on earth. Mum in the United Kingdom. Mam in the Netherlands. Mata in India. Even Mama in Chinese. No matter how big, or fast, or powerful an athlete is, when they look into the camera what do they always say? “Hi mom!” Affection and love poured out in one simple word – “mom” – no matter what the language.

Others. When you really think it through, many mothers work as many as 90 hours a week. Their job description defies logic. A loving hand on a skinned knee. Miles and miles of taxi service. Applause from the 3rd row of the 2nd grade school play. Tears of joy at graduation – whether it is from dance class or college. Dishes…diapers…drama…discipline. Duties all selflessly performed by the person we affectionately call “mother”.

Teacher. Solomon admonishes us to “forsake not your mother’s teaching”(Proverbs 1:8 ESV). He goes on to say that those teachings are “a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck” (Proverbs 1:9 ESV). Life changing lessons taught during late night talks that shape our character for the rest of our lives.

Honor. The first commandment ever given with a promise was “honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:2 ESV). Why? “That it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (vs 3). The word honor literally means “weighted value”. We are to deeply honor and profoundly value our mothers – and in turn God promises blessings poured out on our lives.

Encourager. Your greatest cheerleader will always be your mom. No matter what. Through thick and thin. Good and bad. Laughter and pain. I am reminded of the instruction Paul gave when he said “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV). Sounds like what a mom does all of the time!

Relationship. What’s interesting is that of the seven phrases Jesus uttered on the cross, one of them was directed to the person who gently pushed Him into public ministry (John 2), and searched frantically for Him when she thought He was lost (Luke 2). She stood with Him at Calvary when virtually everyone else deserted Him. Jesus acknowledged her, and provided for her, even during His tortuous death on the cross of salvation. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27 ESV). A relationship begun in a manger… confirmed in a miracle… and declared even in mourning. Mother.

My friend Ann Voskamp eloquently puts it like this; “God said ‘I need someone who can shape a soul and find shoes on Sunday and get grass stains out of Levis. Someone with a heart strong enough for toddler tantrums and teenage testing, yet broken enough to fall on her knees and pray, pray, pray.’ So God made a mother.”

Life didn’t come with a manual – it came with a Mother.

This Mother’s Day, love her. Cherish her. Honor her…that it “may go well you and that you may live long in the land.” 

It just might turn your life – and hers – around. – Dr. Tim Clinton via www.drjamesdobson.org

faith, Family

A Society At War With Adulthood

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Following is an article written by Dr Raymond Force. I thought it was worth sharing in its entirety. There are several “truth bombs” in here that deserve contemplation. I’d love to hear your feedback, so please comment at the bottom. 

 

It was just a few months ago that I heard the word “adulting” for the first time. I have to be honest. I was a little taken aback with its mere existence. That is, the very presence of the word should speak volumes to us in that if we even need such a word, then we obviously have some sort of struggle taking place with achieving its status. 

 

Pastor, Counselor, Coach, Or Dad? 

 

I say it all the time. I am not a pastor, counselor, or a marriage coach as much as one who seems to take on the fatherly role of teaching people lessons they should have learned years ago. Whether the lessons involve getting along with a spouse, securing peace in our souls, managing time, or making money, I feel more like a father than a coach in that many seem to be stuck between the ages of 13 and 20.

 

 The Battle With Adulthood 

 

Within the last few years, I am finding more and more people that seem to be at war with adulthood. That is, they seem to be in a perpetual battle with either acting like an adult or learning to enjoy the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Below are just a few of the aspects of adulthood with which many seem to battle: 

 

Becoming Principled-Driven 

 

If you are guided by simply your emotions, you are not an adult. Of course, emotions are important and God-given, but they are to be the car behind the engine as feelings make a marvelous caboose, but a lousy locomotive.

 

In chapter 3 of our marriage book, How to Fight for Your Marriage Without Fighting With One Another, I discuss how feelings make a very poor marriage counselor. We also discuss how with many a couple, the true god of their marriage is their feelings instead of God the Father. This is always an issue because no marriage will ever rise any higher than its true God or god. 

 

A Giver Instead Of A Taker 

 

Manhood did not come my way until I started to wake up thinking about God, my marriage, and my children first. Of course, I believe in what Matthew Henry calls the law of self-preservation, but keep in mind that the best way to secure joy is always to give opportunity for others around you to enjoy the same. This is why Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

 

Loving Sameness 

 

I find that what keeps most people from consistently showing up in marriage, church life, and business is sameness, that is, doing the same thing at the same time and in the same way. However, it should be noted that children grow weary of the mundane. Adults, on the other hand, find purpose and joy in even the most mundane of tasks.

 

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He changes not, and there is no variableness with Him (James 1:17). Without God’s sameness, we would all perish as the sun would halt and the fields would refrain from yielding crops. It is amazing, however, how we want God to be more faithful to us than we are willing to be to Him and, especially, for Him.

 

Marriage, parenting, building a business, establishing a career, and learning a trade all require the ability to keep showing up. However, if a person is internally at war with consistently dealing with the same environment and the same people, then, in my opinion, they are at war with adulthood as 90% of success is having the ability to keep showing up

 

Loving Work 

 

There is a great life skill in learning to love what you despise. Now, I have to admit that I love my job, but there are a few things to consider even in this: 

 

1. I have to do a lot of things that I don’t necessarily like to do to be able to do what I love to do.

 

2. I did not get to this point overnight. In fact, I bet I could almost beat anybody if we had a contest for how many jobs or business ventures in which a person has been involved. 

 

Embracing Drudgery 

 

People that love practice more than the game, excel. Those that want the event more than the process fade away.

 

Success requires embracing the process and learning that the process can be just as rewarding as the destination. 

 

Working Well With Others 

 

Mark it down. Selfish people are always surrounded by conflict, and selfishness is one of the main characteristics of children.

 

Proverbs even deals with this in that it teaches that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7) 

 

Facing The Giants Of Life Head On 

 

Adults face their problems head-on. Children run, escape, and hide.

 

In our day of escapism, it is important to face our problems without the escape hatches of excuses, blame, alcohol and drugs, illicit behavior, or fantastical thinking. Be brave. Face your problems head-on by the grace of God. God will make a way, and you will find that there is no such thing as a wasted experience. 

 

You Don’t Get A Cookie For Being An Adult 

 

Herein lies my main beef with the presence of the word “adulting”. The words seems too often be used by people that want a cookie for doing things that should be what I feel are no-brainers.

 

Sorry, but getting up early, going to work, doing laundry, eating healthy, and balancing the budget are just a part of life. They do not deserve any special attention on social media nor from anyone around you. These things are not what adults do as much as they are what people have done for thousands of years without any expectation of a supposed prize. 

 

On a further note, while we as a western society give emotional medals for showing up and doing the most basic of tasks, other countries are dominating us in the business world.

 

If our highest goal is just to be at work instead of excelling at work, then we are doomed for disaster as a people group. The rest of the world will not be politically correct and stay behind their borders. They will overtake us before too long and we will no longer be the exceptional people we once were.

 

Jesus said, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10)

 

I feel this verse in intriguing in that Jesus is not handing out gold stars for doing the most basic of exercises. Jesus is teaching that there are certain basic duties that should need no reward. 

 

The Real Problem 

 

The real problem is not laziness, a lack of toughness, or a lack of perspective. In my estimation, these all miss the mark. The real issue is that we have not allowed God’s adult-like characteristics to benefit our souls. When this occurs, we in turn lack the purpose and the internal strength to be as adult-like as our Heavenly Father.

 

When I was a young man, I loathed speeches and articles like the one I am writing. I only despised them because my problem was not a lack of want-to as much as it was a lack of power and purpose in my life to implement what I knew to be right.

 

To be very frank, once I started to truly fellowship with my Heavenly Father, my power-to started to become parallel with my want-to. Then and only then was I able to truly start acting like the adult God was calling me to be. 

 

The Irony Of It All 

 

The irony of this entire article is that I am able to act like an adult because I keep a child like attitude inside of me. I believe I am able to do this mainly because I sense the presence of my Heavenly Father (John 14:21-23). This allows me to enjoy the little things of life, sleep in peace, view my life as a story that He is writing, believe in happily ever afters (especially in eternity), find humor in areas where others only see seriousness, and let God fight my battles.

 

Every child is born with a light in their eyes, but I have found that life has a way of blowing it out. My readers will do well to keep a sacred place within themselves that no one else can touch. God calls it the soul, and in that place you will never regret having a place where you can spiritually run and play on His playground of prayer and meditation.

faith, Family

4 Things Married Men Should Never Do

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So, you’re a married man. Congratulations! Being married can be awesome and liberating. You get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend and someone who complements you completely – it’s tremendous.

The thing about marriage is that it actually provides a framework for you to thrive and flourish, to become your true self rather than someone who is just angling for another score.

But even though marriage is a time for you to feel free, there are a few things that married men should never do. Here are four of them.

1) Get emotionally vulnerable with a member of the opposite sex

Whether you’re unburdening yourself or whether they’re pouring out their heart to you, this is just a bad idea. Look, we all want to be the person who is kind and loving and who is “there” for those in need. And that’s a great person to be!

Just don’t be that person for a member of the opposite sex. Especially if it’s just the two of you.

Look, we’re not afraid of a man being friends or even being close with a woman that he’s not married to. But we also understand the realities of the way the human heart works, and we know that emotional vulnerability can wind up leading either – or both – of you to places you shouldn’t be going.

Someone else can be there for them. Or there for you. It’s not worth it.

2) Keep score

Hey, you want to know a great way to kill intimacy with your wife? Try keeping score!

When you get into a heated conversation (i.e. argument), don’t try to find resolution – just try to win. When your wife asks you to do something for her, remember it so you can use it later to force her to do something for you.

Oh, and when it comes to sex, definitely keep track of who initiates and when and then take it personally.

Of course we’re being sarcastic here. Keeping score is great when you’re playing actual games, but a terrible thing to do in marriage. You and your spouse are in this together, meaning you either both win or you both lose. Grow up.

3) Try to fix your wife

The great thing about your wife is that she is a wonderful puzzle of occasional contradictions who sometimes just needs to think out loud.

And at the risk of generalizing, we’re going to say that when she does think out loud, she’s not really looking for answers so much as a confidant and someone to back up the way she feels about something.

She probably doesn’t really want you to fix her situation, and she definitely doesn’t want you to fix her.

She wants an advocate.

You aren’t responsible for your wife’s emotions or actions. You know who is? She is. Let her be. Listen, be kind, back her up, and let her vent.

4) Stop doing the little things

You know how when you were dating you did all kinds of cool, fun, romantic little things? And you know how that made her feel?

Yeah, you should keep doing that stuff.

You probably already know this, because it’s in, like, every marriage book, blog, video course, conference, and getaway weekend. But there’s a reason for that: because it’s true.

You have to keep doing that stuff to let your wife know you still cherish her and respect her and have a desperate desire to continue surprising her, even after all these years.

And now it’s your turn, married guys. We’ve given you some ideas – take them as a springboard and start thinking of what you shouldn’t do as a married man, as well as all the many, many things that you can do. Get started. Live free.**

 

**This entire article was written by Craig Gross who started http://www.xxxchurch.com. He provides excellent resources for marriage and common struggles men in particular face. I enjoy sharing helpful and encouraging content from other subject matter experts. I hope this is helpful to you as it is to me.

 

 

Family, Personal Development

Thanks Giving is an Excellent Healthy Habit

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What are you thankful for?

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, it seems easy to think of something to be thankful for.

The question still deserves some contemplation. If it has been a while since you paused to think about all that you are thankful for, make an appointment in your calendar to do so. Thinking about your blessings and all that is good in your life is a great way to lift your spirits. I challenge you to look beyond the obvious or “off the top of your head” things to be thankful for and really consider your life and circumstances. Doing so is extraordinarily therapeutic as this excellent article Inside the Surprising New Science of Gratitude suggests.

Being thankful is not just for this annual holiday though. It should be our habit to be thankful. For all the healthy habits one could have, having an “attitude of gratitude” should be at the top of the list.

Hey, that reminds me of a catchy song by Hawk Nelson – listen here.

Famous psychiatrist,  Dr. Leo Marvin made the excellent suggestion to take a vacation from your problems. Thinking about all that is good in your life and giving thanks to God and those around you is a great way to heed the good doctor’s advice. When you practice giving thanks daily, I’m sure you will find yourself to be a happier and more positive person. Then you can be thankful for that as well!

On a lighter side, you might appreciate this bit from comedian Jim Gaffigan about Thanksgiving. It’s from his hilarious book called Food that is a beautiful mockery of healthy eating. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Hey, I’m thankful for the mostly clean comedy of Jim Gaffigan.

Gobble, gobble everyone!

 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19)