Controlling Your Emotions

Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you
Proverbs 4:6

Who is in charge of your emotions? Is it you, or have you formed the unfortunate habit of letting other people—or stressful situations—determine the quality of your thoughts and the direction of your day? If you’re wise—and if you’d like to build a better life for yourself and your loved ones—you’ll learn to control your emotions before your emotions control you.

Wisdom

Human emotions are highly variable, decidedly unpredictable, and often unreliable. Our emotions are like the weather, only far more fickle. So we must learn to live by faith, not by the ups and downs of our own emotional roller coasters.

Sometime during this day, you will probably be gripped by a strong negative feeling. Distrust it. Rein it in. Test it. And turn it over to God. Your emotions will inevitably change; God will not. So trust Him completely as you watch those negative feelings slowly evaporate into thin air—which, of course, they will.

I may no longer depend on pleasant impulses to bring me before the Lord. I must rather respond to principles I know to be right, whether I feel them to be enjoyable or not. 
Jim Elliot

Our feelings do not affect God’s facts. They may blow up, like clouds, and cover the eternal things that we do most truly believe. We may not see the shining of the promises—but they still shine! His strength is not for one moment less because of our human weakness. 
Amy Carmichael

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, You are my strength and my refuge. As I journey through this day, I will encounter events that cause me emotional distress. Lord, when I am troubled, let me turn to You. Keep me steady, Lord, and in those difficult moments, renew a right spirit inside my heart. Amen

Cheerfulness 101

Cheerfulness 101

Every day is hard for those who suffer, but a happy heart is like a continual feast.Proverbs 15:15 NCV

prov1515

Cheerfulness is a wonderful antidote to stress. And, as believers who have been saved by a risen Christ, why shouldn’t we be cheerful? The answer, of course, is that we have every reason to honor our Savior with joy in our hearts, smiles on our faces, and words of celebration on our lips.

Christ promises us lives of abundance and joy if we accept His love and His grace. Yet sometimes, even the most righteous among us are beset by fits of ill temper and frustration. During these moments, we may not feel like turning our thoughts and prayers to Christ, but that’s precisely what we should do. When we do so, we simply can’t stay grumpy for long.

Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts of religion—love, adoration, praise, and every union with our God. ~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.   ~St. Francis of Assisi

God is good, and heaven is forever. And if those two facts don’t cheer you up, nothing will.    ~Marie T. Freeman

When we bring sunshine into the lives of others, we’re warmed by it ourselves. ~Barbara Johnson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, You have given me so many reasons to be happy, and I want to be a cheerful Christian. Today and every day, I will do my best to share my happiness with my family and my friends. Amen

The Value of Connection

Connected HandsAn important aspect of dependency is that it teaches us that relationship is the most important thing in the universe. Connection is really the deepest value in God’s heart.

He constructed everything, and He Himself exists, in terms of relationship: ‘God is love‘ (John 4:16). When you allow dependent feelings and stances in life, you begin to live life the way God intended it. Relationship is not only a means to an end; it is an end in itself.

Closeness to God and others is what life is all about. Life has meaning, fulfillment and purpose in relationship. Some people have never experienced relationship as a good thing in their lives. For example, you may see dependency as being weak and vulnerable, or have fears of abandonment. Or you may have been so disconnected that there appears to be no real value in connection. Where there is no hunger, it is hard to value dependency.

As you work through these difficulties, you can learn to experience closeness as something not only good for you, but as the ‘highest good’ experience and position that God provides for us. In addition, becoming close to God and others is one of the major factors enabling you to be able to give up things you are in bondage to, such as addictions, destructive feelings and poor relationships.

‘LOVE NEVER FAILS!’ (I Cor. 13:8)

Do you need help getting connected? Join us at one of our Weekend Workshops, you will laugh, learn, and by God’s grace  be transformed.

Expressing Grief

Expressing Grief

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

expressing_grief.newlife

Grief is the process that helps you release your pain and losses to God. In your grief, you come to terms with your past and you find freedom to live in the reality of the present. On the other side of grief, you’ll find hope for the future. So if you harden your heart and refuse to grieve, you’re likely to get stuck both emotionally and spiritually.

The prophet Jeremiah shared his grief and tears with God. Jeremiah lived with God’s people and pleaded with them to return to God. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his heart was broken. So in his grief, the prophet penned the words of the Old Testament book, Lamentations. When you read it, you’ll find that Jeremiah didn’t mince his words or hide his pain. He weeps openly and fully, releasing his emotions to God. It’s a great example for us when we grieve our own losses.

Lamentations doesn’t provide pat answers for the suffering you’ll experience. If you’ll read it, you’ll discover that it’s all right to be real, to be angry, to be disappointed with life, and to be concerned about what tomorrow holds for you. God accepted Jeremiah being angry, tired, and discouraged, and he will accept you as well. Just as God honored the tears of Jeremiah, He’ll honor yours if you share your pain and sorrow with Him. It’s likely to be the first step to bring healing for the present and hope for the future.

 Grief  is itself a medicine. – William Cowper

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. – C.S. Lewis

 

What are Safe Relationships?

What are Safe Relationships?

safe.relationships.newlife

I (John) have a fitness fanatic friend named Mark who evangelizes me on the gospel of health whenever he has a chance. He’s a lovable guy, but he’s the kind who always finds a way to change the conversation to exercise, diet, and vitamins.

We were having breakfast one day, and he began talking about his struggles with his wife, Diane. They were going through a painful period and having lots of conflict. Instead of giving advice, I listened and tried to understand what Mark was going through.

As we talked, he expressed everything from sadness to frustration to anxiety. By the time we finished, however, his face had relaxed, and he could actually smile and joke around.

‘You look like you’re feeling better,’ I said.

‘Absolutely, I’m more encouraged’, Mark said. ‘Wheat toast, fruit, and herbal tea make me a new man’! Then he looked at me and grinned sheepishly. ‘Uh, and it might have helped to have someone to talk to,’ he admitted.

Though Mark wasn’t sure about that fact, I am. What happened at breakfast is that I acted as a safe person for Mark to confide in. Just as surely as we were taking in our breakfast to sustain us physically, so we were talking to sustain ourselves emotionally. We were enjoying the great benefits of a safe relationship.

What is a safe relationship?

We like to think of a safe relationship as one that does three things:

1. Draws us closer to God.

2. Draws us closer to others.

3. Helps us become the real person God created us to be.

The Bible refers to these three areas of spiritual growth. We fulfill the greatest commandment, to love God (Matt. 22:37-28). We keep the second commandment, to love each other (Matt. 22:39). And we grow into the particular person that God created us to be, accomplishing the tasks he has designed for us (Eph. 2:10).

When we asked people to describe a ‘safe person’ to us, they gave us these descriptions:

A person who accepts me just like I am.

A person who loves me no matter how I am being or what I do.

A person whose influence develops my ability to love and be responsible.

Someone who creates love and good works within me.

Someone who gives me an opportunity to grow.

Someone I can be myself around.

Someone who allows me to be on the outside what I am on the inside.

Someone who helps me to deny myself for others and God.

Someone who allows me to become the me that God intended.

Someone who helps me become the me God sees in me.

Someone who touches my life and draws me closer to who God created me to be.

Someone who helps me be like Christ.

Someone who helps me to love others more.

We would all want people in our lives that help us in these ways. But the problem is, how do we recognize them? What do they look like?

We all struggle on different sides on the ‘safe relationship’ issue. Some do not even think we need relationships with other people. They think the Lord is enough and that you should only trust in him. Others think that they must depend only on themselves. Still others believe that the Bible teaches the value of relationships, but then they find themselves in hurtful relationships over and over again. They pick hurtful friends, spouses, churches, work partners, spiritual leaders, and dating relationships. They seem to not have the ability to find and like safe people. Having a seemingly astounding talent for finding people that will ultimately hurt them, they repeat patterns over and over again, and then become discouraged about relationships in general.

So for us to begin to utilize safe relationships, we need to first understand what a safe person is and why we need that kind of safety. The best example of a safe person is found in Jesus. In him are found the three qualities of a safe person; dwelling, grace, and truth.

As John wrote: ‘The Word became flesh and lived for awhile among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and the only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).

John Townsend & Henry Cloud

Surround yourself with safe people at one of our weekend workshops. Our check out some of our excellent resources.

Dangers of Isolation: Healing is a Choice

Excerpted from “Healing Is A Choice” by Steve Arterburn

falsesenseofsafety.newlifeThe most common lie that prevents people from connecting with others or allows them to stay disconnected is the lie, ‘All I need is God and no one else.’ The ‘only God’ lie is actually a form of denial. It allows a person to acknowledge that there’s something in their life that needs attention, but denies that the problem requires the attention of others. In other words, it permits the recognition of smoke, but balks at the notion of an actual fire. This form of denial expects God to meet every need and heal every pain. But it doesn’t happen, because that’s not God’s plan. His plan is for us to connect with each other to facilitate healing in our lives.

There’s a sense of safety and control in isolation and disconnection, but it’s a false sense of safety. In fact, living lonely is anything but safe. It’s a dangerous way to live because it allows you to miss real life and real people and all the benefits and rewards that go with growing relationships.

When you decide to connect, you live life as God intended it. Although you might be uncomfortable, you start to come alive as you seek deeper levels of connection with those around you. You also experience God’s love at a deeper level, because God loves us through others. As you begin to connect with others, those people become expressions of His love with skin on. Furthermore, connection allows you to experience God’s tempering. He uses others to mold us into the people He wants us to be. In isolation our character has little chance to grow. But connection offers us the opportunity to put ourselves aside for someone else and grow closer to the image of God. Finally, connection allows us to feel accepted. We fear rejection and we might experience it, but if we continue to risk in our connections, we’ll one day find acceptance and validation. This is healing to the soul in a way we’d never know if we stayed alone.

The choice to heal through connections starts with our connection with God. As we live more for Him and live more to please Him, we experience a growing awareness of His presence and an intimate connection that takes us through the toughest of times with hope and the best of times with divine joy.

Connection with God is vital to our healing, but it’s not enough. We must branch out from the ‘God only’ mentality and reach out to others. In humility we can begin a new level of connection essential to the healing process. Go no further before you stop and connect with God. Then take the healing risk and connect with others who can help you heal and experience life to the fullest.

Have you been isolating yourself ? If you have, consider reading a copy of the book, Healing is a ChoiceFind out more information about our Healing is a Choice Workshop. Healing is a Choice Workshop Testimonies

Real Repentance Builds Character

Steve Arterburn

When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the Lord your God in later days and obey Him. He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the Lord your God is a compassionate God. Deuteronomy 4:30-31 HCSB

Who among us has sinned? All of us. But, God calls upon us to turn away from sin by following His commandments. And the good news is this: When we do ask God’s forgiveness and turn our hearts to Him, He forgives us absolutely and completely.

Genuine repentance requires more than simply offering God apologies for our misdeeds. Real repentance may start with feelings of sorrow and remorse, but it ends only when we turn away from the sin that has heretofore distanced us from our Creator. In truth, we offer our most meaningful apologies to God, not with our words, but with our actions. As long as we are still engaged in sin, we may be ‘repenting,’ but we have not fully ‘repented.’

Is there an aspect of your life that is distancing you from your God? If so, ask for His forgiveness, and’just as importantly’ stop sinning. Then, wrap yourself in the protection of God’s Word. When you do, both you and your character will be secure.

But suppose we do sin. Suppose we slip and fall. Suppose we yield to temptation for a moment. What happens? We have to confess that sin. Billy Graham

Repentance begins with confession of our guilt and recognition that our sin is against God. Charles Stanley

When true repentance comes, God will not hesitate for a moment to forgive, cast the sins in the sea of forgetfulness, and put the child on the road to restoration. Beth Moore

Four marks of true repentance are: acknowledgement of wrong, willingness to confess it, willingness to abandon it, and willingness to make restitution. Corrie ten Boom

The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Proverbs 28:13 HCSB   Character builder
If you’re engaged in behavior that is displeasing to God, today is the day to stop. First, confess your sins to God. Then, ask Him what actions you should take in order to make things right again.

Confidence Restored

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world  you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.
JOHN 16:33 MSG

Are you a confident, faithful believer, or do you live under a cloud of uncertainty and doubt? As a Christian, you have many reasons to be confident. After all, God is in His heaven; Christ has risen; and you are the recipient of God’s grace. Despite these blessings, you may, from time to time, find yourself being tormented by stressful, destructive emotions—and you are certainly not alone.

During turbulent times like these, even the most faithful Christians are overcome by occasional bouts of fear and doubt. And you are no different. But even when you feel very distant from God, remember that God is never distant from you. When you sincerely seek His presence, He will touch your heart, calm your fears, and restore your confidence.

Bible hope is confidence in the future.   ~Warren Wiersbe

Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts you habitually occupy. Think defeat, and you are bound to be defeated.   ~Norman Vincent Peale

Jesus gives us the ultimate rest, the confidence we need, to escape the frustration and chaos of the world around us.   ~Billy Graham

Believe and do what God says. The life-changing consequences will be limitless, and the results will be confidence and peace of mind. ~Franklin Graham

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, You are my Savior and my Sustainer. I will be safe with You in heaven, and I am safe with You here on earth. Today, I will trust in Your promises, and I will be a confident, obedient, purposeful servant to Your Son.  Amen

Learning to Say "No"

So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.
HEBREWS 12:1 NCV

Face facts: If you haven’t yet learned to say “No” —to say it politely, firmly, and often—you’re inviting untold stress into your life. Why? Because if you can’t say “No” (when appropriate) to family members, friends, or coworkers, you’ll find yourself overcommitted and underappreciated.

If you have trouble standing up for yourself, perhaps you’re afraid that you’ll be rejected. But here’s a tip: don’t worry too much about rejection, especially when you’re rejected for doing the right thing.

Pleasing other people is a good thing . . . up to a point. But you must never allow your “willingness to please” to interfere with your own good judgment or with God’s priorities.

God gave you a conscience for a reason: to inform you about the things you need to do as well as the things you don’t need to do. It’s up to you to follow your conscience wherever it may lead, even if it means making unpopular decisions. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to be popular with God, not people.

Some of us would do more for the Lord if we did less.   ~Vance Havner

Many people never receive God’s best for them because they are addicted to the approval of others. ~Joyce Meyer

When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others, when we are free from currying others’ favor and others’ approval—then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied. And then, if we know we have pleased God, contentment will be our consolation.   ~Kay Arthur

Don’t be addicted to approval. Follow your heart. Do what you believe God is telling you to do, and stand firm in Him and Him alone.   ~Joyce Meyer

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, when I need to say no, give me the courage, the wisdom, and the strength to say it. Today and every day, help me follow my conscience, not the crowd. Amen

Do You Have Them?

Using BHAG’s and SAG’s to Make Your Vision an Everyday Reality

What if you told people walking down the street that you had a BHAG? “A what?!” they say. “You know, big hairy-” and before you can finish the sentence you get smacked. So you try a different tactic. “Say, ma’am, did you know I’ve got SAG’s?” This time, you don’t just get smacked, the little old lady pulls out a couple of karate moves and leaves you panting on the sidewalk as she totters away.

No, a BHAG is not a new medical abbreviation for something nobody wants to know about. Nor is a SAG, despite its possible implications.

BHAG’s and SAG’s have a lot to do with your future, both the near future and the rest of your life. A BHAG is a “big hairy audacious goal” and a SAG is a “small attainable goal.” BHAG’s are more long term, visionary goals. They’re wild and crazy!

For example: “I want to stop particulate pollution world wide!” “I want to become the best salesperson in the company!” A father says, “I want to see all of my children reach graduate school if they want to! Or perhaps your church decides, “We want to see a large sub-Saharan African village clothed and fed!

SAG’s on the other hand, are the small steps that we can see easily to get to the medium and long-range goals. Using the above examples, maybe you work with the American Lung Association to make people aware of soot and pollutants that they breathe every day to start you towards your BHAG of eliminating particulates in the air.

Or, to become the best salesperson, you take an intensive course in sales and marketing. The father with the BHAG of seeing all of his children through graduate school might take his kids to meet various professionals. And the church with the vision for feeding a whole village might need to start with just gathering information.

SAG’s should be very practical and short term. You can put time limits or event limits on SAG’s to make sure things don’t become ambiguous or overwhelming. You might narrow your information gathering about poor African villages down to five sources or budget the money or time you spend on a basic sales course.

All goals are attainable, at least in theory, but “attainable” in the SAG sense means a goal that you can see or touch. Stopping air pollution or feeding a whole village does not feel very attainable right now from where I stand but the SAG’s under these goals are. BHAG’s give direction to SAG’s and give them purpose: SAG’s under-gird BHAG’s and give them structure.

[box type="info"]Proverbs 13:4 says that “The soul of the lazy man desires and has nothing but the soul of the diligent will be made rich.” [/box]

Desire is important but it cannot get you to your goals alone. Diligence is one of the main cogs in the big wheel of reaching desire.

Looking up to check your direction and progress is very important and often people get lost when they forget to check. Perhaps you’ve heard of the airline pilot who says to his passengers after several hours of flight: “I have good news and bad news: We’re making good time, but we don’t know where we’re going.”

If you are being unaware, if you are enjoying the getting there too much or if you are going too fast you may end up in the wrong place.

So, if you know your BHAG’s, see what your SAG’s are, and are diligent with your SAG’s, making sure you look up frequently to check your direction and progress, you should be seeing results in all of your goals whether they are BHAGs or SAG’s.