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Category Archives: Encouragement

Words to ventilate our hope: it takes courage to believe, and in order to have that courage, we must believe


If there are two words that should be said in the same breath and said regularly to ventilate our hope, that should be flamed together, branded as a signature of our faith, they are the words “faith” and “courage.”  It takes courage to believe, and in order to have that courage, we must believe.

From time to time, lobsters have to leave their shells in order to grow. They need the shell to protect them from being torn apart, yet when they grow, the old shell must be abandoned. If they did not abandon it, the old shell would soon become their prison–and finally their casket.

The tricky part for the lobster is the brief period of time between when the old shell is discarded and the new one is formed. During that terribly vulnerable period, the transition must be scary to the lobster. Currents gleefully cartwheel them from coral to kelp. Hungry schools of fish are ready to make them a part of the food chain. For awhile at least, that old shell must look pretty good.

Joshua 1:9 (62 kb)We are not so different from lobsters. To change and grow, we must sometimes shed our shells–a structure, a framework–we’ve depended on. Discipleship means being so committed to Christ that when he bids us to follow, we will change, risk, grow, and leave our “shells” behind. [1]

In A Pretty Good Person, Lewis Smedes writes: A federal judge had ordered New Orleans to open its public schools to African-American children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.

“Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, six years old.

“Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her. They threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.

“Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges. He talked to Ruby’s mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: “There’s a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what’s good and what’s not good,” but there are other folks who “just put their lives on the line for what’s right.” [2]

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.

The only fight which is lost is that which we give up.

In June 1955, Winston Churchill, who was then near the end of his life, was asked to give a commencement address at a British University.  At this time he was physically infirm; he had to be helped to the podium.  Then he held on to the podium for what seemed an interminable amount of time.  He stood with his head down but then finally raised that great leonine head of his, and the voice that years before had called Britain back from the brink of destruction sounded publicly for the last time in history.

“Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.”  With that, Churchill turned and went back to his seat.  I’m told there was silence, and then, as if one person, the whole audience rose to applaud him, because he was a man whose life and words were together. Again and again throughout Churchill’s political career, he had known setbacks.  Three times, his career apparently was over, he was sent off to oblivion, and yet somehow he had a sense that there was still something left after the worst. [3]

Fear doesn’t want you to make the journey to the mountain. If he can rattle you enough, fear will persuade you to take your eyes off the peaks and settle for a dull existence in the flatlands. [4]

Henry Ward Beecher is credit as saying that “God planted fear in the soul as truly as he planted hope or courage. It is a kind of bell or gong which rings the mind into quick life on the approach of danger. It is the soul’s signal for rallying.“

Once you’ve faced the very thing you fear the most, it is no longer quite so fearful.

Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.

Being positive is part of being a hero–maybe the hardest part, because if you are a hero you’re smart enough to know all the reasons why you should be discouraged.

The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive.

Maybe we need the confidence of Alexander McClaren, who courageously replied, “Only he who can say, “The Lord is the strength of my life,” can say, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”

During World War I, a British commander was preparing to lead his soldiers back to battle. They’d been on furlough, and it was a cold, rainy, muddy day. Their shoulders sagged because they knew what lay ahead of them: mud, blood, possible death. Nobody talked, nobody sang. It was a heavy time.

As they marched along, the commander looked into a bombed-out church. Back in the church he saw the figure of Christ on the cross. At that moment, something happened to the commander. He remembered the One who suffered, died, and rose again. There was victory, and there was triumph.

As the troops marched along, he shouted out, “Eyes right, march!” Every eye turned to the right, and as the soldiers marched by, they saw Christ on the cross. Something happened to that company of men. Suddenly they saw triumph after suffering, and they took courage. With shoulders straightened, they began to smile as they went. You see, anything worthwhile in life will be a risk that demands courage.

We certainly want to avoid the charge being leveled toward us that we were neutral at a crucial point of our life. Dante said in the 13th century that “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. “

Today our culture is far less likely to raise up heroes than it is to exalt victims, individuals who are overcome by the sting of oppression, injustice, adversity, neglect or misfortune. … Success, as well as failure, is the result of one’s own talent, decisions and actions. Accepting personal responsibility for victory, as well as for defeat, is as liberating and empowering as it is unpopular today.

I have always appreciated the ‘dry bones’ message of Ezekiel 36-37, when God revealed His plans for the deliverance of Israel and the restoration of His name among the nations. His motives were clear: “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone….’For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land….I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

“You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.”

(Ezekiel 37:1-14)  “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. {2} He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. {3} He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” {4} Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! {5} This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. {6} I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'” {7} So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. {8} I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. {9} Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” {10} So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army. {11} Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ {12} Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. {13} Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. {14} I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'””

God revealed His power and might, and the reality that literally nothing is outside of His control; He can do what He wills when He wants! He needs us to realize this and be willing participants! He who loves God with all his heart dreads neither death, torment, judgment, nor hell, for perfect love opens a sure passage to God.

In the midst of a storm, a little bird was clinging to the limb of a tree, seemingly calm and unafraid. As the wind tore at the limbs of the tree, the bird continued to look the storm in the face, as if to say, “Shake me off; I still have wings.”

Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory. The only fight which is lost is that which we give up. We must be careful for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything.

We must have plenty of courage. God is stronger than the devil. We are on the winning side. Success is never final; failure is never fatal; it is courage that counts. The great need for anyone in authority is courage. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms:  it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much deeper and much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood

A sailor was given liberty to go ashore when his ship docked at a large southwestern American city.  He visited a park famous for its trees and tropical flowers. As he walked across an open grassy sunlit area, he noticed bees flying all around him.  Suddenly, all the bees began to settle upon him. They were all over his clothes, his hands, and his face. Panic gripped him, and though he wanted to run in fear, he forced himself to stand stock still. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of bees all over him.  He hardly dared to breathe. “Look at that sailor,” he heard a woman’s voice say. After what seemed an eternity to the sailor, slowly the bees departed one by one until they were all gone.  His uniform was soaked with perspiration, but he had not been stung once. Sometimes it is better to stand stock still in the midst of danger than to run in panic and fear and possibly to bring about the very end one wishes to avoid. Scripture says,  “”Whoever flees from the terror will fall into a pit, whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare; for I will bring upon Moab the year of her punishment,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 48:44)


[1] Brent Mitchell in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker) from the editors of Leadership.

[2] Bob Campbell in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

[3] John Claypool, Birmingham, Alabama, Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 2.

[4] Max Lucado, Christian Reader, Vol. 32, no. 3.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Encouragement

 

Adult self-esteem


 1. Accept personal responsibility for your own low self-esteem.

Galatians 6:5: “…for each one should carry his own load.” Our past and the present influence you, but you are a creative factor in the formation of your own thoughts, actions, and feelings. If you do not take such responsibility, you will never change. You can choose to perceive the past differently!

2. Restructure your thinking.

Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. {9} Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

People who are down on themselves tend to make many thinking mistakes:

  1. They overgeneralize. From one mistake, they conclude that they can’t      do anything right.
  2. They eternalize. From one failure, they conclude that they will      never do anything right.
  3. They personalize. They are too absorbed with themselves. They      inappropriately apply comments and criticism from others to themselves:      “They are all talking about me.” They blame themselves too much:      “Others had nothing to do with it, circumstances had nothing to do      with it, I caused it all. I am completely to blame.”
  4. They catastrophize. What they do is the worst thing that has ever      been done: Íf you only knew what I did, you would not want me in your      church or to be your friend.”
  5. They filter. Many positive things may have happened to them, yet they do not      see them. They filter them out. Their whole world is thus negative.
  6. They neutralize. If they see positive things in their lives, they      negate them: “He doesn’t really like me. He just needed a date.”      “My husband doesn’t really like me, he just wants a woman. Any woman.”      We can make anyone look bad by filtering out his/her good points or by      concentrating on his/her bad points.
  7. They absolutize. Everything becomes a must. “People must like      me, life must be easy, and I must be competent. If not, I am      worthless and life is not worth living.” We must make a distinction      between desire and demand: It would be nice if everyone liked me,      but it is not necessary. Persons with low self-esteem often jump to      conclusions without adequate evidence.
  8. They dictomize. Everything is either black or white: there is no gray. Such      persons are often very perfectionistic. Their way is always the right      way about everything. Their opinions are always the truth.
  9. They self destruct. They set up negative self-fulfilling prophecies:      “No one likes me.” So when a person does like them, they are      suspicious and uncomfortable, which causes them to send out negative signals,      which causes the other person to “back off.” When they back off,      the person says to himself or herself: “I was right. No one likes      me.” It seems impossible for a person with low self-esteem to feel      loved.

Check Your Self-Esteem: Barksdale Self-Esteem Evaluation No. 69

This Self-Esteem Evaluation measures your current level of self-esteem, your Self-Esteem Index (SEI), and serves as a gauge of your progress in achieving sound self-esteem. It is important to clearly understand all statements and be completely honest in your scoring if you are to obtain a valid SEI. It is essential that you answer these statements according to how you actually feel or behave, instead of how you think you “should” feel or behave.

Score as follows (each score shows how true or the amount of time you believe that statement is true for you):

0 = not at all true for me
1 = somewhat true or true only part of the time
2 = fairly true or true about half the time
3 = mainly true or true most of the time
4 = true all the time

Score = 0 1 2 3 4
Not True …… True

Self-Esteem   Statements

0   1 2 3 4

1. I don’t feel anyone else is better than I am.

0   1 2 3 4

2. I am free of shame, blame, and guilt.

0   1 2 3 4

3. I am a happy, carefree person.

0   1 2 3 4

4. I have no need to prove I am as good as or better than others.

0   1 2 3 4

5. I do not have a strong need for people to pay attention to me or   like what I do.

0   1 2 3 4

6. Losing does not upset me or make me feel “less than”   others.

0   1 2 3 4

7. I feel warm and loving toward myself.

0   1 2 3 4

8. I do not feel others are better than I am because they can do things   better, have more money, or are more popular.

0   1 2 3 4

9. I am at ease with strangers and make friends easily.

0   1 2 3 4

10. I speak up for my own ideas, likes, and dislikes.

0   1 2 3 4

11. I am not hurt by others’ opinions or attitudes.

0   1 2 3 4

12. I do not need praise to feel good about myself.

0   1 2 3 4

13. I feel good about others’ good luck and winning.

0   1 2 3 4

14. I do not find fault with my family, friends, or others.

0   1 2 3 4

15. I do not feel I must always please others.

0   1 2 3 4

16. I am open and honest, and not afraid of letting people see my real   self.

0   1 2 3 4

17. I am friendly, thoughtful, and generous toward others.

0   1 2 3 4

18. I do not blame others for my problems and mistakes.

0   1 2 3 4

19. I enjoy being alone with myself.

0   1 2 3 4

20. I accept compliments and gifts without feeling uncomfortable or   needing to give something in return.

0   1 2 3 4

21. I admit my mistakes and defeats without feeling ashamed or   “less than.”

0   1 2 3 4

22. I feel no need to defend what I think, say, or do.

0   1 2 3 4

23. I do not need others to agree with me or tell me I’m right.

0   1 2 3 4

24. I do not brag about myself, what I have done, or what my family has   or does.

0   1 2 3 4

25. I do not feel “put down” when criticized by my friends or   others.

The possible range of your Self-Esteem Index is from 0 to 100. Sound self-esteem is indicated by an SEI of 95 or more. Good self-esteem is indicated by a score of 90 to 94. Experience shows that any score under 90 is a disadvantage, a score of 75 or less is a serious handicap, and an SEI of 50 or less indicates crippling lack of self-esteem.

Charlie Brown, of “Peanuts” comic strip fame, is known as the classic loser. He pitches for the baseball team that never wins. When he represents his school in the spelling competition everyone knows how it will turn out, because Charlie Brown is a loser. It is no better socially. Charlie Brown keeps trying to earn the admiration and respect of others, but every attempt to be an achiever ends in disaster.

Yet we like Charlie Brown. I suspect his popularity comes from the fact that we see a bit of ourselves in this perennial loser. From our earliest days we are conditioned to believe the only way to be happy is to excel.

Recognition is reserved for the achievers. So, like Charlie Brown, we fantasize about rising to the top. But most of us remain in the category labeled “average.” What happens to all the Charlie Browns who face defeat after defeat? They grow up suffering with feelings of inferiority and insignificance. What they feel about themselves is largely determined by what others feel about them. If others consider them losers they grow up believing they are worthless.

Psychologists tell us one of our deepest needs is the need for self-esteem. How do we gain self-esteem?

It Hurts to Be a “Nobody”

Children can be incredibly cruel to each other. Do you remember the playground days when we chose sides to play ball? There were always some children who were chosen first. They were winners. Having them on the team gave a decided edge. And there were others who were always chosen last. They weren’t wanted. They were a liability.

The same thing happened in the classroom. Some were winners; others were losers. And it continues all through life. There is the housewife who spends her days tending to important family needs and perhaps fantasizing about the glamorous roles of others. Ask her who she is, and she will likely tell you she is “just” a housewife. A society of distorted values has led her to believe she is “nobody.” There is the man who reaches middle age locked into a job that is going nowhere. To be “somebody” is to be climbing. But he stopped climbing long ago.

We measure people by their physical attractiveness, their athletic skills, their productivity, or their intelligence. Those who do not measure up are left to a life of frustration.

Guilt can also saddle us with feelings of inferiority. Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities has a character named Sydney Carton, whose life had been misspent. He’d had opportunities for achievement, but never had the self-discipline to do anything about them. He spent his life in London taverns, returning home each day in a drunken stupor.

The one thing which made Sydney Carton a man of destiny was his amazing resemblance to the hero of the story, Charles Damay. At the climax of the book Charles Damay was in prison in Paris awaiting execution. Sydney Carton arranged to visit Charles Damay-and took his place in the prison cell. Carton, realizing his life had been wasted, seized this opportunity to make his life count for something. On the way to execution he said, “It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” In his final act he wanted to make his wasted life useful.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in Encouragement

 

Dealing With The Problem of a Low Self-Esteem


Don’t Give the Children’s Bread to Dogs:  The Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30) tell about a woman who came to Jesus seeking help for her afflicted daughter. On the surface it sounds similar to many other Gospel stories, for most of them record the pleas of people who were hurting-the sick, the blind, and the crippled. But there is something especially poignant about this story. You see, this woman was a Syrophoenician She was not born to the chosen people. This is the first recorded instance of a foreigner coming to Jesus for help.

 The Key to Self- Esteem

This story is a miniature of the whole gospel. It offers the only real remedy for low self-esteem. The first step in achieving a sense of self-esteem is to recognize, as this woman did, that we are unworthy. We become somebody precisely at the point where we recognize that God makes us somebody.

God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us. We are valuable because he created us in his own image. We are valuable because he died for us. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

self-esteemThere is no “in” group arid “out” group. He sees past our misspent years and our failures. He sees us for what we were meant to be. We are valuable to him.

Near the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he makes this powerful and encouraging observation: “Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (I Cor. 1:26). .

Paul was a good example of this. He was burdened with his past as a persecutor of Christians and he had a debilitating health problem. Tradition tells us his physical appearance was unimpressive. It’s interesting that when God wanted his work done, he did not choose a great Athenian orator or athlete. He chose one who had reason to feel inferior. But God could use Paul’s weakness to his glory. So Paul wrote, “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . . for when I am weak, then 1 am strong” (II Cor. 12:9-10)..

Psychologists tell us unfulfilled desires for self-esteem lead to bitterness and frustration. Imagine the problems which are created in the child who constantly sits in front of a television set, absorbing the medium’s standards for being somebody. To the girl it means beauty; to the boy it means being athletically gifted. Accepting these standards leads to frustration, because most people are rather ordinary.

Definitions and Key Thoughts

Self-esteem refers to an inner sense of worthiness that gives a person resilience and resistance to discouragement or criticism. Generally speaking, each person has a concept about his self-worth (which may or may not be accurate), and self-esteem is how he feels about (or evaluates) that concept.

Having good self-esteem does not mean being proud or having an over-blown view of our own importance. Paul encourages us to “think soberly” when it comes to evaluating ourselves (Romans 12:3). This means to assess ourselves with honesty and fairness.

Low self-esteem can manifest itself in many ways:

  • feelings of self-hate, believing that we are unworthy or incompetent
  • refusal to get close to people, believing we don’t deserve strong or supportive relationships
  • refusal to trust others
  • inability to accept ourselves as special and unique
  • rejection of what God intended the person to be in Him
  • depression
  • a need for large amounts of attention
  • a competitive or argumentative spirit
  • poor decisions made that are based on fears and not reality

An individual’s self-esteem is in trouble when he allows others to determine his value or significance instead of the One who created him. Poor self-esteem is often the result of prolonged periods of negative feedback in a person’s life, resulting in deep wounds and pain. As a counselor, you need to apply active listening skills in order to determine how far back the negative influence has gone.

Society is constantly assessing our value. At work, we have performance evaluations, we are graded in schools, and we are evaluated for loans. Assessment of our value begins early in life and continues even after we die.

Often, another person’s value judgment of us is a means to an end. An example of this is the young lady who finds herself in the back seat of a car with a boy who says, in effect, “If you want me to value you, you will have sex with me.”

God has determined our value based on His love and purpose for creating us in the first place and on the price He has paid to redeem us for all eternity.

Most who struggle with low self-esteem believe lies about their significance to God. The goals of interacting should be to:

  • Correct false or erroneous beliefs about the individual’s worth and significance
  • Make an accurate, genuine assessment of that person’s strengths, gifts, significance, and potential
  • Bring a healing from deep relationship wounds
  • Help the person get over the distortions and be able to honestly admit his strengths as well as his weaknesses
  • Help the person on the journey to adopt God’s perspective of his worth.

WISE COUNSEL

Helping a person with low self-esteem does not mean telling him untruths. Instead, help the person develop a realistic assessment of his unique set of skills, abilities, and character traits. And, help this individual develop a strong sense of God’s love and forgiveness. Give the person hope. Encourage him to see that he is on a journey. Encourage patience and prayer along the way.

Remind the person of the story in John chapter 5 where Jesus healed the crippled man who had lived for 38 years with brokenness and pain. Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. Why would Jesus ask? It seems that a person can live for so long with brokenness that he may not want to do the work that it takes to receive healing. Is the person willing to do the work to receive healing?

1. Recognize Your Value

There is a difference between having an inflated ego and simply understanding your significance based on your God-given gifts and value to Him. Make a list of talents, character traits, physical traits, abilities, accomplishments, etc., that set you apart.

2. Stop Harmful Thought Patterns

Consider some of the thought patterns and other factors that are leading you to believe lies about your worth. Think back on things you’ve done-taught a Sunday school class, helped with Boy Scouts, gave a perfect gift to a relative, taught a child to shoot a basketball, took a bag of groceries to a food pantry, invited a new coworker to lunch. List all of those big and little things done for others. Then consider the impact they had on those people.

3. Begin New Thought Patterns

Each negative thought can be countered with God’s assessment of your value. For example: If you feel your self-worth fizzle when a coworker with less experience is promoted over you, stop the negative thoughts before they take hold of you. Ask yourself if there might be any good reason this person received the promotion over you. If not, remind yourself that life isn’t always fair.

4. Be Patient

It has taken years of bad habits to get to shape your self-esteem. Healing will not happen overnight and will require replacing the bad habits with good ones. It may take awhile until your reflex action is quick to respond in a proactive way to negative thinking.

5. Read God’s Word

Study what the Bible says about your worth to God. Explore what God says about His love for you and His purpose for your life. (Give him the verses from Biblical Insights.) Keep a journal to record significant breakthroughs.

But Moses said to God, “Who am 1 that 1 should go to Pharaoh, and that 1 should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” -Exodus 3:11 Moses was certain God was making a mistake by choosing him to lead the Israelites. His five excuses indicated a lack of confidence in his ability to get the job done. He had a crisis of identity (“who am” 3:11), a crisis of authority (“what is His name?” 3:13), a crisis of faith (“they will not believe me;’ 4:1), a crisis of ability (“I am not eloquent;’ 4:10), and a crisis of obedience (“send. . .whomever else;’ 4:13). But God was with him, and Moses led the nation to freedom. With God’s help and guidance, great things are possible.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. -Matthew 10:29-30

Jesus described God’s loving concern for every person, explaining that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered:’ God cares even for small birds- “not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” -so imagine how much more He cares for His people. What a boost of encouragement! We are important to God-created in His image and loved. He loves us so much, in fact, that He “gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! -1 John 3:1

A healthy self-image is seeing yourself as God sees you—no more and no less. — Josh McDowell

He who is able to love himself is able to love others also; he who has learned to overcome self-contempt has overcome his contempt for others. — Paul Johannes Oskar Tillich (1886–1965)

I am as my Creator made me, and since he is satisfied, so am I. — Minnie Smith

Self-acceptance is basically a spiritual issue. What it boils down to is this: are we able to thank the Creator for the way he made us? If not, we are casting doubt on his wisdom. If we can thank him, we display our belief that he knows what is best for us. And that will help us accept ourselves—limitations, failures, and all. — Erwin W. Lutzer (1941– )

A person with good self-esteem has a sense of self-worth, yet recognizes his/her limitations. Such a person is not conceited but rather is glad to be himself. They accept themselves and others but are desirous of correcting their own shortcomings.

They are problem-centered, not self-centered: they appreciate the simple things of life, are ethical, able to discriminate between means and ends; they get along in their culture yet resist enculturation and have a genuine desire to help the human race.

Healthy self-esteem in MEN is thought to be derived to some extent from vocations, intelligence, wealth, achievements, education, positions of power, and competition.  FEMALE self-esteem results more from the achievement of goals, self and body image, education, money, everyday concerns, and family relationships. Both sexes are usually affected by their view of how they are evaluated by significant others in their lives.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2019 in Encouragement

 

Asking ourselves the age-old question: “What are you looking for in life?”


(Eccl 2:10-11) “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. {11} Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

We are all looking for something that brings JOY. Our perpetual busyness rat-race is a search for JOY!
1. We are trying to find a spiritual experience within the material world.
2. We are trying to find something that validates our life.
3. We are trying for an eternal reality in every day life.
4. We are trying to find “God-with-us” in the material things of life.

James 1:2 (44 kb)Biblical truth: True joy is found only in Jesus Christ! (Gal 5:22) “But the fruit of the Spirit is…joy…”

Luke’s gospel is the gospel of joy, while Paul’s letter to the Philippians is the epistle of joy–even though it was written from prison. The New Testament continues to stress OT usages of joy, but also adds the thought of “joy in suffering and pain.” The joy of service is also stressed to a greater degree in the teaching of Christ and the apostles.

Every Life Needs Joy More Than Happiness
Happiness is external Joy is internal
Happiness is based on chance Joy is based on choice
Happiness is based on circumstances Joy is based on Christ

The Joy of Living
We may put it this way whatever be the ingredients of the Christian life, and in whatever proportions they are mixed together, joy is one of them. In the Christian life joy always remains a constant. ‘Rejoice in the Lord,’ Paul writes to his Philippian friends, and he goes on to repeat his command: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice’ (Phil. 3.1; 4 4). ‘Rejoice always,’ he writes to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 5.16). It has been said that ‘Rejoice!’ is the standing orders of the Christian.

Every virtue and all knowledge is to be irradiated with joy; even the patience and the endurance which might well be bleak and grim things are to be lit with joy. ‘The kingdom of heaven,’ Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘is righteousness and peace and joy’ (Rom. 14:17).

There is no virtue in the Christian life which is not made radiant with joy; there is no circumstance and no occasion which is not illumined with joy. A joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is the one constant in the recipe for Christian living.

When we examine the references to joy in the New Testament in all their variety and their multiplicity, they fall into a certain pattern, and they tell us of certain spheres in which the Christian joy is specially to be discovered.
(a) There is the joy of Christian fellowship.
The New Testament is full of the simple joy of what can best be called ‘togetherness’. It is a joy even to see such fellowship. Paul writes to Philemon to tell him what joy and comfort he has received from the sight of Philemon’s love and from the sight of the way in which the saints have been refreshed by Philemon’s loving care (Philemon 7).

In the famous saying the heathen looked at the Christian church and said, ‘See how these Christians love one another.’ It must never be forgotten that one of the greatest evangelizing influences in the world is the sight of true Christian fellowship, and one of the greatest barriers to evangelism is the sight of a church in which fellowship has been lost and destroyed. It is a still greater joy to enjoy Christian fellowship.

It rejoices Paul’s heart that his Philippian friends have remembered him with gifts (Phil. 4:10). To see Christian fellowship is great, to be wrapped around in it is greater yet. It is a joy to see Christian fellowship restored.

When Titus came back from the troubled church at Corinth with the news that the breach was healed and fellowship restored, then Paul rejoiced (I1 Cor. 7:7, 13). It is a joy to experience Christian fellowship reunited. The New Testament knows the simple joy of meeting friends again. John trusts that he will meet his friends again, and then his joy will be complete (II John 12).

In the New Testament there is nothing of religion which isolates a man from his fellow men. The New Testament vividly knows the joy of making friends and keeping friends and reuniting friends, for friendship and reconciliation between man and man are the reflection of fellowship and reconciliation between man and God.

(b) There is the joy of the gospel. There is the joy of the new discovery. It may be said that the gospel story begins and ends in joy. It was tidings of great joy that the angels brought to the shepherds (Luke 2.10), and the wise men re¬joiced when they saw the star which told them of the birth of the king (Matt. 2.10). So in the beginning there was joy.

There is the joy of receiving the gospel. It was with joy that Zacchaeus received Jesus into his house (Luke 19.6). The Thessalonians received the word with joy (I Thess. i.6). Repeatedly Acts tells of the joy which came to men when the gospel arrived in their midst. Philip’s preaching brought joy to Samaria (Acts 8.8); after his baptism the Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8.39). There was joy in Antioch of Pisidia when the Gentiles heard that the gospel was to leave the synagogue and come out to them (Acts 13.48). The New Testament makes it clear that con¬version should be one of the happiest experiences in all the world.

There is the joy of believing. It is Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Rome that the God of hope will fill them with all joy and peace in believing (Rom. i5.i3). It is the joy of their faith that Paul wishes to increase for the Philippians (Phil. 1.25). The New Testament makes it clear that Christian belief is followed by Christian joy. It was said of Burns that he was haunted rather than helped by his religion. There have always been those who have made an agony of their religion. But for the New Testament belief and joy go hand in hand.

There is a certain sternness in this Christian joy. It is a joy which rejoices even in discipline and in testing. James bids his readers to count it all joy when testing comes (James 1.2). The Christian joy is like the joy of a woman whose travail has passed and whose child has come (John 16.2 1, 22).

It is a notable thing how often in the New Testament joy and affliction walk hand in hand. In spite of persecution the Christians in Antioch are filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy (Acts 13.52). The Christian may be sorrowful but he is also rejoicing (II Cor. 6:10). The gospel brought tribulation to Thessalonica but it also brought joy (I Thess. 1.6).

This joy in tribulation can be a very wonderful thing, and its wonder lies in the fact that it is endured and under¬taken for Jesus Christ. Peter and John left the Sanhedrin and its threats rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts 5.40. Peter encourages his people by telling them that when they suffer they are sharing the sufferings of Christ himself (I Peter 4. 13).

The most startling passage in the New Testament is in Col. 1.24 where Paul says that he rejoices in his sufferings. ‘In my flesh,’ he says, ‘I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.’

How can there be anything lacking in the sufferings of Jesus Christ? How can anyone in any sense complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ? Let us take an analogy. It may be that in his laboratory or his operating theater or his research room a scientist or a surgeon or a physician toils and sweats and labors and suffers and endangers and risks and destroys his own health to find some cure or some help for the pains and ills of men.

But that discovery remains useless until it is taken out from the laboratory and made available for men all over the world. And it may well be that those who take it out to men have to sweat and toil and suffer and sacrifice to make it available. And it may accurately and fitly be said that their sufferings to make the gift available to men fill up and complete the sufferings of the great man who made the original discovery.
The work of Jesus Christ is done and completed. But it has still to be made known to men. Time and time again in history men have laboured and suffered and died to tell men of that which Jesus Christ did for them. And in their sufferings they may well be said to be completing the sufferings of Jesus Christ himself. Here is the great uplifting thought that, if ever our loyalty to Jesus and our service of him cost something, it means that we to are completing the suffer¬ings of Jesus Christ. What higher privilege could there be than that? If this is so, it is true that ours is a joy which no man taketh from us (John 16.22).

(c) There is the joy of Christian work and witness. There is joy in the sight of God in action. The Seventy re¬turned with joy, because the devils were vanquished at the name of Christ (Luke10:17). At the sight of Jesus’ wonder¬ful works people rejoiced because of the glorious things that were done by him (Luke 13.17; 19.37).

There is joy in the sight of the spread of the gospel. Barnabas was glad when he saw the Gentiles gathered in at Antioch (Acts 11.23). The tale of the spread of the gospel brought great joy to the brethren (Acts 15.3). The gospel is the last thing which any Christian wants to keep to himself. The further it spreads and the more who share it, the greater his joy. There is the joy of the teacher and the preacher in the Christian progress of his people. The news of the obedience of the Christians in Rome has spread abroad and Paul is glad on their behalf (Rom.16:19).

The unity of the congregation is the joy of the minister (Phil. 2.2). Even in his absence Paul rejoices at the steadfastness of the Christians at Colossae and the progress of the Christians at Thes-salonica (Col. 2.5; I Thess. 3.9). John rejoices when his children walk in the truth (II John 4). `No greater joy,’ he says, ‘can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth’ (III John 4).

It must never be forgotten that, as the New Testament sees it, the object of all Christian preaching is to bring men joy. ‘These things have I spoken to you,’ said Jesus, ‘that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full’ (John 15.11). Jesus’ object in speaking to his disciples was that they might have his joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17.13).

John’s aim in writing to his people was that his and their joy might be complete (I John 1.4). It is Paul’s desire for the Corinthians that he may work with them for their joy (II Cor. 1.24). Paul would wish to be spared for a little while longer that he may help the Philippians in their pro¬gress and joy in the faith (Phil. 1.25).

It may be that a preacher has to awaken sorrow and penitence in his people; it may be that he has to awaken fear within their hearts; it may be that he has to rouse them to self loathing, and to humiliation. But no Christian sermon can ever end there. The sermon which leaves a man in dark despair is not a Christian sermon, for after the shame and the humiliation of penitence there must be the joy of forgiveness claimed and the love of God experienced. No man should ever rise from a Christian service without the possibility of joy flaming and blazing befbre him.

Stanley Jones tells of Rufus Moseley ‘the most bubbling Christian’ he ever knew. Someone said of him: ‘The first time I heard him I thought he was crazy, but the second time I heard him I knew he was crazy.’ Someone once asked Mosely if he thought that Jesus ever laughed. ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘but he certainly fixed me up so I can laugh.’

It may be that in the end of the day the greatest of all will be the joy in the people whom we have brought to Jesus Christ. To Paul it is the Philippians and the Thessalonians who are his joy and his crown (Phil. 4.1; I Thess. 2.19, 2o). The writer to the Hebrews urges those who are set in leadership and authority to be so faithful to their trust that they may render account at the end of the day not with grief but with joy (Heb. 13.10.

And so we come. to the end, for this joy is nothing other than the joy of God, for the joy of God is the joy of one who finds things which have gone lost, like the shepherd and the lost sheep (Luke 15.5, 7; Matt. 18.13); like the joy of the woman who found the coin that was lost (Luke 15:10); like the joy of the father whose lost son came home (Luke 15.32).

For man and God alike the greatest of all joys is the joy of love reborn and love restored, and the joy of the pastor in his people is nothing other than the joy of God.

SOME ENEMIES OF JOY
Sometimes we’re robbed of joy by the differences between generations. There have always been generation gaps, but it seems to me that generation gaps are more obvious now than they’ve ever been before.

A second enemy of joy is unresolved guilt. A lot of people are unable to accept themselves, & to accept the forgiveness of God. You may have come through a divorce & you feel that you’re inferior in the sight of God. Or you may have had a brush with the law & you feel that you’re not welcome in God’s house. Or that people would not understand if they knew the secrets of your life.

David was the same way in the O.T. He had committed adultery, & he felt enormous guilt over it. He wrestled with the guilt & finally came to God in Psalms 51:12 & prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…”

A third enemy might be a wounded ego. A lot of us walk around with our feelings exposed, just waiting for someone to say the wrong thing or not to say anything at all. And it happens. People don’t always act the way we would like. They don’t always say the right things. Sometimes they offend us, & our feelings are hurt. We feel unloved & unneeded & left out.

The fourth enemy of joy is unpleasant circumstances. All of us, I think, begin life with unrealistic expectations as to what life is going to be like. I know that I started out thinking, “Well, I’ll marry the perfect woman.” And I did. “And we’ll have perfect children.” And we do. And that we would live in the perfect house, & make lots of money. Which we haven’t. And we would be wondrously happy all of our lives, & there would never ever be any problems.

But problems do come, & they come to everybody. You may lose your job. Your children may disappoint you. There may be heartaches. Your health may break. Problems do come.

But here’s the good news. Even though the circumstances are unpleasant, God still wants to give you joy, to change who you are, & the way you think.

True joy allows us to live with this motto: Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life, ever! There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today; but I did! And because I did I’m going to celebrate!

Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger.

I will go through this day with my head held high, and a happy heart. I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds. Today, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice.

Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people. I’ll make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know. Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I’ll tell a child how special he is, and I’ll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for her and how much she means to me.

Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and his Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine. And tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures. As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life. And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life, ever!

A treadmill becomes a treadmill because it doesn’t answer our real needs. It carries us along, gathering momentum because we’re secretly feeling worse – we secretly give up hope, as feeling better seems increasingly elusive.

The Workaholic Test
1. Is work the primary source of your identity.
2. Do you believe work is good, and therefore the more you do the better person you are? Do you brag about the “long hours?
3. Do you feel you are unworthy unless you are pushing to the point of fatigue?
4. Do you think you are indispensable; do you often work while you’re sick?
5. Do you control your work or does your work control you?

The Eight Characteristics of a ‘Driven’ Person
1. Are you gratified only by accomplishment, and the need to acquire more?
2. Are you preoccupied with the symbols of accomplishment, status symbols like: titles, office size, flow charts and special privileges?
3. Are you obsessed with growing “it” bigger, faster?
4. Does your personal integrity sometimes lose out to your ambition?
5. Do you sacrifice people and people skills for the job?
6. Do you find ambition is a competition to have and hold onto more than others?
7. Do you have a temper when things don’t go your way?
8. Are you abnormally busy, and too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family and friendship – even God?

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2019 in Encouragement

 

Experiencing Joy… Happiness is a feeling. Joy is an attitude. A posture. A position. A place.


It says in the Declaration of Independence that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those words are the preamble to the American dream. But more than 225 years later, the innocent, hopeful intentions of our founding fathers have become blind and dangerous compulsions.
We all know we can’t buy happiness, and we are often surprised by what brings us happiness and frustrated by what we believe should make us happy.

It has been suggested that we are becoming a nation of men and women who, in the quest for happiness, all too often fall short of achieving any kind of inner peace. Instead of life’s journey being an exhilarating adventure into the unknown, for many of us it is a compulsive and tiring trek, an exhausting journey where the next stop for replenishment never seems to arrive.

flowerGeorge Santayana: “A string of excited, fugitive, miscellaneous pleasures is not happiness; happiness rsides in an imaginative reflection and judgment, when the picture of one’s life, or of human life, as it truly has been or is, satisfies the will, and is gladly accepted.”

“Many apparently successful people feel that their success is underserved and that one day people will unmark them for the frauds they are. For all the outward trappings of success, they feel hollow inside. They can never rest and enjoy their accomplishments. They need one new success after another. They need constant reassurance from the people around them to still the voice inside them that keeps saying, “If other people knew you the way I know you, they would know what a phony you are.”.

Happiness is not about having what we want…but wanting what we have! In many ways, happiness is within us waiting to be discovered.

Fewer than 10 percent of Americans are deeply committed Christians, says pollster George Gallup, who adds that these people “are far, far happier than the rest of the population.” Committed Christians, Gallup found, are more tolerant than the average American, more involved in charitable activities, and are “absolutely committed to prayer.” While many more Americans than this 10 percent profess to be Christians, adds Gallup, most actually know little or nothing of Christian beliefs, and act no differently than non-Christians. “Overall,” says Gallup, “The Sunday School and religious education system in this country is not working.”

They (we) need to discover the difference between happiness and joy! If our goal in life is to match our will to God’s in serving Him, then we will always have work to do. In that work we will be content. And in that contentment we will find joy.

The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a “happy Christian.” Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays “that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

I was told recently of a Russian view of happiness: An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian were discussing happiness. “Happiness,” said the Englishman, “Is when you return home tired after work and find your slippers warming by the fire.” “You English have no romance,” said the Frenchman.

“Happiness is having dinner with a beautiful woman at a fine restaurant.” “You are both wrong,” said the Russian. “True happiness is when you are at home in bed and at 4 a.m. hear a hammering at the door and there stand the secret police, who say to you, ‘Ivan Ivanovitch, you are under arrest,’ and you say, ‘Sorry, Ivan Ivanovitch lives next door.'”

Statistics show that despite conflicts, married people are generally happier, live longer, and contribute more to society than those who remain single or leave a spouse.

People seem to believe that they have an inalienable right to be happy–“I want what I want and I want it now.” No one wants to wait for anything and, for the most part, no one has to anymore. Waiting is interpreted as pain. … People walk into my office and say they are Christians, but I see no difference except that they want to be happy and now expect God to make it so.

The problem is that, in this country, you can have what you want when you want it most of the time. … People like the fact that they can buy a 50-foot tree and instantly plant it in their yard. Why on earth would anyone want to wait on relationships or wait on God?

In the grand and deeply moving prophesy of the ancient prophet Isaiah, it was foretold that when Christ comes He would impart to His people “the oil of joy” for mourning (Isaiah 61:3). Joy has always been one of the most significant hallmarks of God’s people. Joy springs from the presence of God in a person’s life!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s personal experiences certainly proved correct the statement that “the cross of Christ destroyed the equation religion equals happiness.”

Millions of men and women across the centuries attest to a transformation in their lives. It is what is meant by Paul in Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” God is here! He is alive! He is in charge!

Can this statement be said of you? Now that I know Christ, I’m happier when I’m sad than I was before when I was glad.”

I ask you, “Do you have that joy?” It’s obvious that many people don’t. And you’ve been around them, haven’t you? They’re grumps, they’re gripers, they’re very negative about virtually everything that happens in life, complaining almost all the time. As a result, they just aren’t much fun to be around.
One of my favorite stories about a person with a grumpy personality begins with a man going into the doctor’s office. As he walked in, he was met by the receptionist. He told her that he had a sore on his chin that he want-ed the doctor to examine.

She said to him, “Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes.” “But ma’am,” he said, “it’s just a sore on my chin. I don’t think all that is necessary.” She repeated, “Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes.” “But ma’am,” he said. “Down the hall, first door to the right, & take off your clothes.”

So he went down the hall, took the first door to the right, walked in & saw another man already sitting there in his boxer shorts, shivering. He said to him, “Boy, that receptionist is really something, isn’t she? I just have a little sore on my chin & she told me to come down here, go through this door & take off my clothes.” The man in the boxer shorts said, “You think that’s bad? I’m the UPS delivery man.

There are some difficult people, aren’t there? “Some cause happiness whenever they go; some, whenever they go.” And what they need is a personality transplant.

There are only three kinds of persons; those who serve God, having found Him; others who are occupied in seeking Him, not having found Him; while the remainder live without seeking Him, and without having found Him. The first are reasonable and happy, the last are foolish and unhappy; those between are unhappy and reasonable.

Let me give you a definition of “joy.” “Joy is an evidence of the presence of God in your life.” If God is in your life, if you are filled with the Spirit of God, then this fruit of the Spirit will be obvious in your life. (Jesus Others You)

Now don’t mistake happiness for joy. It’s easy to do that. The Bible mentions “joy” or “rejoicing” 330 times. But it only mentions “happiness” 26 times. Happiness depends upon what happens to you. So if all the circumstances are right, then you can be happy. But joy comes from inside.

Kaufmann Kohler states in the Jewish Encyclopedia that no language has as many words for joy and rejoicing as does Hebrew. In the Old Testament thirteen Hebrew roots, found in twenty-seven different words, are used primarily for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in religious worship. Hebrew religious ritual demonstrates God as the source of joy.

In contrast to the rituals of other faiths of the East, Israelite worship was essentially a joyous proclamation and celebration. The good Israelite regarded the act of thanking God as the supreme joy of his life. Pure joy is joy in God as both its source and object.

If you want to live longer and have a more effective witness for Christ, let his joy in your heart spill over into happy laughter. When you laugh, your diaphragm goes down, your lungs expand, and you take in two or three times more oxygen than usual. As a result, a surge of energy runs through your body.
Dr. James J. Walsh said, “Few people realize that their health actually varies due to this factor. Happy individuals recover from disease much more quickly than sad, complaining patients; and statistics show that those who laugh live longer.”

C. S. Lewis in his autobiography, Surprised By Joy, writes, “Joy is never in our power and pleasure is. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted joy would ever, if both were in his power, exchanged it for all the pleasure in the world.”

Joy is really the underlying theme of Philippians – joy that isn’t fickle, needing a lot of “things” to keep it smiling . . . joy that is deep and consistent – the oil that reduces the friction of life.

If we can convince people that we are on to something that’s full of joy, they’ll stampede one another to follow us.

Clyde Reid says in his book, Celebrate the Temporary: “One of the most common obstacles to celebrating life fully is our avoidance of pain. We do everything to escape pain. Our culture reinforces our avoidance of pain by assuring us that we can live a painless life. Advertisements constantly encourage us to believe that life can be pain-free. But to live without pain is a myth. To live without pain is to live half a life, without fullness of life. This is an unmistakable, clear, unalterable fact. Many of us do not realize that pain and joy run together. When we cut ourselves off from pain, we have unwittingly cut ourselves off from joy as well.”

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Some needed comment
flowerThe picture of Brinson holding the dandelion flower at the beginning of this post has a special story, which is told in two emails sent to the family by their father, Eric: 

“One of Brinson and Aiden’s favorite things to do on a walk is pick dandelions (and drag large sticks around…I wonder where they got that). By the end of today’s walk Aiden has accumulated quite a collection of sticks, branches, rocks, and dandelions. He continuously would drop one at a time and have to reshuffle all his treasure in order to bend over and pick the dropped one back up without dropping the rest. Brinson was satisfied with just one large branch and a small stick.

“Aiden collected every dandelion that we passed but Brinson would not pick any because they weren’t big enough…he was holding out for a ‘really big one.’ We got back to our house and he still had not found a dandelion that met his specs. We decided that we would pray for God to make a really big dandelion for Brinson to find on our next walk.

“At dinner and at bed time Brinson prayed for it. God says that if we ask in faith he will answer and Brinson fully expects to find his flower from God on our next walk. I invite you to pray along with us. Somewhere in our neighborhood tonight God is bringing up a little seed just for Brinson. It will go unnoticed by everyone except for one little boy…the little boy that it was made for. God is good and faithful…and I know that he will thoroughly enjoy watching Brinson search for his gift.”

The next morning the following email and picture came from Eric: “This morning Brinson prayed for his flower for breakfast and as he, Aiden, and Wendy were walking into their school he looked down and saw a big, yellow dandelion by the door. Obviously, he was very excited and kept it with him all day long. If only we all had faith like a child.” (In Him, Eric).

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Encouragement

 

Pursuing Peace… “No sleep can be tranquil unless the mind is at rest.” Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God


“God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising.” –King Solomon.

“Because we lack a Divine Center, our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’ … We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are worn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.” —-Richard Foster.

peace
Peace is rare: Less than 8 percent of the time since the beginning of recorded time has the world been entirely at peace. In a total of 3,530 years, 286 have been warless. Eight thousand treaties have been broken in this time.

But we don’t always want to be so grandeur in our thinking. After all, I don’t start wars and I certainly can’t halt them.

We might rather dwell on this little piece of real estate that can be called ‘mine’ and leave it at that…to work on the attainable, casting aside the greater ideals. Why not think more simply?

Well, life doesn’t always allow for that. While it is true that the bathtub was invented in 1850 and the phone in 1875, and in 1850, you could have sat in the tub without having the phone ring, that doesn’t always answer the day’s issue.

Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.

Media mogul Ted Turner wanted to see if anybody had a real vision of a future world at peace and in harmony with the environment. He said his quest ended in disappointment. Turner told an Atlanta gathering of contributors to his Cable News Network’s World Report a few years back that he funded a competition to find a book that gave a workable plan for a world of peace.

“With 10,000 manuscripts, we did not have one plausible treatise on how we could get to a sustainable, peaceful future,” Turner told the gathering. The board chairman of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. said that, without a feasible plan, the prospects of creating peace are grim. “You’ve got to have a vision,” Turner said. “We can achieve it.” It’s too bad that Ted didn’t read the manuscript about the Prince of Peace.

In the fall of 1892, D. L. Moody boarded a ship in Southampton bound for New York. Three days into the journey, Moody, lying on his bunk, was startled by a loud noise, and the vessel began to shudder. The large shaft that drove the propeller had broken and smashed through the side of the ship. Water began pouring in and it was soon apparent that the ship would sink.

Moody was no stranger to dangerous situations. He’d been shot at in the Civil War. In Chicago, during the great cholera epidemic, he fearlessly visited the sick and dying. “But on the sinking ship,” Moody wrote in his memoirs, “it was different. It was the darkest hour of my life. I had thought myself superior to the fear of death,” but that illusion quickly vanished. “I could not endure it.”

Moody went to his cabin and on his knees poured out his heart to God. What happened? Moody said, “God heard my cry, and enabled me to say, ‘Thy will be done!'” He went to bed and fell asleep. He wrote, “I never slept any more soundly in all my life.”

At three in the morning, Moody’s son awakened him with good news: a steamer had heard their distress signals. Seven days later, they were towed into safe harbor.

I remember hearing of a young man who went to a minister of Christ in great distress about his spiritual state. He said to the minister, “Sir, can you tell me what I must do to find peace?” The minister replied, “Young man, you are too late.” “Oh!” said the young man, “you don’t mean to say I am too late to be saved?” “Oh, no,” was the reply, “but you are too late to do anything. Jesus did every thing that needed to be done twenty centuries ago.”

All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace. The second of the two most popular Christian greetings is “peace” (eirene). It is roughly the equivalent of the Hebrew shalom. But, though it is related to this word, it also means more.

Above all, peace is God’s gift to man, achieved by him at the cross of Christ. It is peace with God (Rom 5:1) and is to express itself both in peace of mind (Philippians 4:6, 7) and in a very practical peace between all those who know God.

This latter peace should be seen, as William Barclay notes: in the home (1 Cor. 7:12-16), between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-17), within the church (Eph. 4:3; Col. 3:15), and indeed in the relationships of the believer with all men (Heb. 12:14). The apostle Peter suggested its priority for our life: “.…he must seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:11b).

However painful or difficult, or, on the other hand, however inconspicuous or humdrum life may be, the Christian finds his peace in accepting and playing his part in the master plan.

In life troubles will come which seem as if they never will pass away. The night and storm look as if they would last forever; but the calm and the morning cannot be stayed; the storm in its very nature is transient. The effort of nature, as that of the human heart, ever is to return to its repose, for God is peace.

Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.

I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it. We cannot blink the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in His opinions and so inflammatory in His language that He was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever His peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.

Peacemaking is an action that springs out of an attitude. When the heart’s wrong, there can’t be peace. Selfishness is a gangrene, eating at the very vitals. Sin is a cancer, poisoning the blood. Peace is the rhythm of our wills with Jesus’ love-will. Disobedience breaks the music. Failure to keep in touch makes discord. The notes jar and grate. We have broken off. The peace can’t get in. Jesus made peace by his blood. We get it only by keeping in full touch with him.

We would do well to acknowledge that which cannot be changed. Edwin Markham put it well:
At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky And flinging the clouds and the towers by,
Is a place of central calm; So here in the roar of mortal things,
I have a place where my spirit sings, In the hollow of God’s palm.

A few years ago Ann Landers wrote a column in which she tried to depict what the earth would be like after a nuclear war. And she asked all of her readers to clip the article and to send it to the White House. The President, Ronald Reagan, wrote her a letter about two weeks later in which he acknowledged that he had received over two hundred clippings. But then he went on to suggest, “I think you sent them to the wrong place. They should have been sent to the Kremlin.”

While it may have been true that much of the problem could be laid at the feet of the Soviet Union rather than the United States, it’s also true that we often look at the problem with “those other guys” and fail to examine ourselves.. That’s often the problem about peace, isn’t it? It’s with those other guys.

I’ve been told that there are places in Europe where you can sink a spade into the earth, and in just two or three spadefuls of earth, you can dig up prehistoric artifacts and also bits of metal from much more modern times. In one spadeful of earth you might come up with a flint fist hatchet, which was used in prehistoric times to crush the skull of an enemy, and in that same bunch of earth, you will also find a bit of shrapnel from some shell fired during the Second World War.

Crushing the skull in the one instance, blowing a person to bits in the other–that is a kind of parable of the history of humankind, isn’t it? War after war after war. The absence of peace.

Frustrated? Wondering where to turn? Paul’s formula for understanding peace comes from a spiritual perspective, but we might need to make one more acknowledgement: I’m reminded of the Peanuts cartoon with Lucy saying to Charlie Brown, “I hate everything. I hate everybody. I hate the whole wide world!” Charlie says, “But I thought you had inner peace.” Lucy replies, “I do have inner peace. But I still have outer obnoxiousness”

Paul has the better response: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: {19} that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. {20} We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. {21} God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2019 in Church, Encouragement

 

Is God inclusive or exclusive?


Exclusive Is God inclusive or exclusive? Both! He wants all to be saved but there are “steps of faith.” Peter proclaimed the clear answer in 2 Peter 3: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Churches today are less and less likely to ask “What does the Bible say?” and more likely to ask, “What does the community want?” We need to be reminded that the church belongs to the Lord, not the community. The church is uniquely His and was designed to be His servant to take His gospel to a lost and dying world.

Truth has become trivial, irrelevant. Realize that 72% of Americans between the ages of 18-25 now believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth!

David F. Wells, God in the Wasteland, “We have turned to a God that we can use rather than to a God we must obey; we have turned to a God who will fulfill our needs rather than to a God before whom we must surrender our rights to ourselves. He is a God for us, for our satisfaction – not because we have learned to think of him in this way through Christ but because we have learned to think of him this way through the marketplace.
   “In the marketplace, everything is for us, for our pleasure, for our satisfaction, and we have come to assume that it must be so in the church as well. And so we transform the God of mercy into a God who is at our mercy.”

Jesus once asked regarding John the Baptizer, (Matthew 11:7) “As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?” A reed is a symbol of instability; it pictures that which yields to other forces.

On the other hand, Paul described the church as the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The imagery here is that of a solid, immovable foundation. It is a question that the church of today must ask. Are we a “reed shaken in the wind,” or are we the “pillar and ground of the truth”?

Real Love – Real love doesn’t leave another person in error. Real love takes the time to show them the error of their way:  (Galatians 6:1) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
(2 Timothy 2:24-26) “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. {25} Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, {26} and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

inclusion-wordle11Jesus was exclusive! (John 14:6) “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Unless you believe that I am He (John 8:24) “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.””

One Gospel  – (Galatians 1:6-9) “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– {7} which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. {8} But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! {9} As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Encouragement, Marriage

 
 
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