For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. – 1 Peter 2:15


Have you ever hung up the phone or left a conversation and felt like you said too much? Have you ever wished you could take back something you said? We often learn the hard way that words can cause pain and create problems.

One way to refine your use of words is by routinely practicing the discipline of silence.

Take a day to monitor your conversations. Spend some time in silence to reflect on how you’ve used and abused words. Do you use words to rationalize, lie, deceive, exaggerate, or manipulate? In silence you’ll remember the words you spoke quickly in anger and slowly in apology, arrogantly in accusation and humbly in confession. In silence you’ll begin to hear and you’ll begin to experience his renewal.

Then you can begin to make changes where necessary. People recovering from heart attacks are often counseled to bring quiet into their lives by speaking less often and more slowly when they do speak. Such discipline has been proven to reduce stress and ease tension. And most importantly it can help you use your words in ways that encourage others and please God.

– Steve Arterburn

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. – George Eliot

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.


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

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


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

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

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

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.

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

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

Passionate Without Apology

Excerpted from the book More Jesus, Less Religion by Steve Arterburn

If Jesus attended your church this Sunday, would he be shunned, criticized, or quietly avoided because of his open displays of emotion? Would you and I feel, well, a little uncomfortable maybe a tad embarrassed in the presence of such strong, spontaneous expressions of anger at the temple money-changers or grief over the spiritual condition of Jerusalem?

In many churches, I think there is a good chance he would be shamed or taken to task for such conduct.

  • “Get a grip on yourself, Jesus.”
  • “Are you saved, Jesus?  Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth.”
  • “Come on, Jesus where is your faith?”
  • “Don’t you know that Scripture says to rejoice always?”
  • “Give it to God, Jesus.”
  • “Remember, Jesus, all things work together for good.”

Can’t you just hear such comments being made? The Son of God himself would likely be criticized for not “snapping out of it” or “having enough faith.”

The truth is, of course, Jesus had perfect faith and was absolutely sinless. Yet he allowed himself to experience the heights and depths of human emotion. He knew the mountaintops of great joy and the blackest chasms of depression and sorrow. He did not suppress his anger, choke off his tears, or mask his depression. And he did not fear to speak forth the deepest longings of his heart.

He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).  He was (and is) passionate without apology.

Our Passionate God

Throughout Scripture, God is revealed to be a passionate God. Some of us may not be comfortable with that.  Others might seek to explain it away: “It’s just a Hebrew, cultural thing.” But our discomfort doesn’t alter the facts one iota.

In the Old Testament we see glimpses of a God who possesses deep wells of passion. Through the prophet Jeremiah, he declares, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (31:3).

In the book of Hosea, he agonizes over the fate of rebellious Israel.  You can almost catch a sob in his voice: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled” (Hosea 11:8).

That word ‘kindled’ comes from a Hebrew root that can mean, “to shrivel with heat.” What a picture! This is no cool, dispassionate deity calmly observing the struggles of his children from the comfort of some easy chair among the clouds.

Can you hear the groan of a heartbroken parent when God says of Israel, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations, a people who continually provoke me to my very face” (Isaiah 65:2-3)?

Our Passionate Forebears

The psalmists inherited their heavenly Father’s strong passions. In fact, Psalms is a veritable textbook of emotional expression. Try telling David he should be more reserved! He wrote: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes” (Psalm 6:6-7). At another low point in his life, David penned these words: “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning I am forgotten by [my friends] as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery” (31:9-10, 12).

At other times, this hymnbook of Israel is filled with raucous cymbal clashing, horn blasting, and mighty shouts of overflowing joy. A little excessive, you say? A little undignified, you protest? But what are we going to do with it? This sort of emotion flows through the pages of Scripture like a fast-running steam.

The Emotions of a Perfect Man

When Christ walked the earth, he expressed his emotions freely and without shame. It’s too bad so few of us choose to follow his example.

The Christian must recognize that Christ did not deny, suppress, or stuff his feelings; he embraced them. As he walked on earth, he revealed his love, anger, sorrow, and many other emotions. Beyond any question, he felt the depths of emotion.

Isn’t that what makes Hebrews 4:15 such an encouraging passage? The writer reminds us “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” Jesus experienced everything that we do. Every emotion. Every temptation. The high highs, the low lows, and the flat in-betweens. His is One who understands what we feel experientially. Sometimes it’s frustrating trying to describe to a counselor or friend what’s going on in our heart when we’re not half sure what’s happening ourselves. But Jesus knows. He doesn’t have to guess or imagine. He knows.

If you found this article helpful, I encourage you to explore the book More Jesus, Less Religion.

The Revealing Question You Need to Answer

Excerpted from the book How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich

For years, we danced through marriage, each with two left feet. We tripped each other and stepped on one another’s toes. Little did we know we were each moving to songs we knew by heart’ only the melodies didn’t match. Had we known the significant impact one little question about our early lives would have on our marriage, we might have avoided a lot of problems and made some important changes a lot sooner. We call it the comfort question. It is not a question about your marriage, but its answer can accurately pinpoint the relative difficulties you’re currently experiencing. We’ve asked this question to thousands of people when we speak together at seminars. People often tell us the question haunted them for weeks. We’ve asked it to friends in everyday conversations. But we started by asking it to ourselves. The question is simple: Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress?

Your answer to that question could potentially reveal more about your relationships than any other insight you might uncover. Realize here we aren’t talking about when you fell down and scraped your knee or got sick with the flu. We are looking for a time when you were significantly upset and a parent offered consolation and relief. You might think, I had a happy childhood. I can’t remember needing comfort. But the fact is, we all experienced something emotionally upsetting during the first eighteen years of life. It didn’t have to be a major trauma. Maybe your best friend moved away or you were disappointed because you didn’t make the baseball team. Perhaps a good friend hurt or betrayed you. You may have faced something serious like a learning disability, a divorce, a death, or verbal or physical abuse that left you confused, upset, and in need of comfort. Whatever happened to you, at a specific time during your childhood, you experienced either comfort for your pain or the stark absence of it, and that representative memory influences your current relationships in untold ways.

If you can’t recall a specific memory of being comforted, you’re in good company. Our work with struggling couples tells us that roughly seventy-five percent of the adults we surveyed do not have a single memory of receiving comfort from a primary caregiver when they were children. Of course, we may have been comforted during our early years and can’t remember those times. But if we don’t have a conscious memory of comfort from our childhoods, and if we rarely experienced relief from our families who taught us to relate to people, then we are missing some important experiences to take into marriage. We believe this common comfort deficit is pervasive and far-reaching, causing countless difficulties in people’s relationships, communication, and daily lives.

If your parents had difficulty noticing and soothing your distress, you probably grew up in a family with little emotional connection. Without realizing it, your mom and dad most likely discouraged the expression of certain emotions or responded poorly to your feelings. (If that’s the case, your parents probably didn’t enjoy meaningful emotional connections within their own families growing up). When emotional connection is lacking, you learn to restrict emotions and minimize what’s bothering you, and you will not expect relationships to offer comfort. After all, it’s hard to expect something you’ve never experienced. Most people who grew up with a lack of emotional connections have no idea what they’re missing.

It’s important to say here that we are not trying to turn you against your parents or give you a target at which you can shoot arrows of blame. Most of our parents did the best they could and were simply working with the tools they had. Our parents did not receive all they needed growing up either. Your goal is not to find fault but to gain a realistic picture of what went right and what went wrong in your early life so you can begin the healing journey toward growth and maturity.

You might be wondering, What’s the big deal? Why is this question so important? Actually, your answer to the comfort question reveals a great deal about certain aspects of your relationships. If your parents touched you, listened to you, helped you express what was going on in your soul (we call them ‘soul words’), accepted your feelings, and resolved problems well, you’ll have a healthy view of relationships. Good parenting leaves on a child a secure imprint of intimacy that forms positive beliefs and healthy expectations about all future relationships. Memories of comfort are a strong indicator you were imprinted by your early experiences to express feelings, seek connection, and expect relief when life gets bumpy. Now, when you are upset, you won’t think twice about seeking relief through relationships. It’s natural for you to go to your mate for comfort.

Take some time today to ask yourself if you can recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress.

For more on this subject see How We Love: A Revolutionary Approach to Deeper Connections in Marriage by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

I’m Angry…is that Okay?

Excerpted from the book More Jesus, Less Religion by Steve Arterburn

Despite what you may have been taught, even anger can be a legitimate emotional response to a broken world. Christ became angry, expressed it, and did something about it. Consider the story from the gospel of Mark. The text says, ‘a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone. ‘Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or do evil, to save life or to kill?’But they remained silent’ (Mark 3:1-4).

What a terrible silence that was!It reeked with hypocrisy, hatred, jealously, and a stubborn refusal to believe. The text says, ‘He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand. ‘He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored’ (verse 5).

Now Jesus knew very well what sort of world he would enter when he stepped through the gates of heaven to be conceived in the womb of a teenage girl and born in Bethlehem. He was under no illusions about the intransigence, cruelty, hatred, and wooden obstinacy he would encounter during his earthly sojourn. He knew very well that the sins of earth would cost him his life. Even so, when he came nose to nose with such sin and stubbornness in his teaching ministry, it caused him deep frustration even to the point of burning anger.

What then does Scripture have to say about anger in our lives?It can certainly be sinful and out of control, even dangerous. But it doesn’t have to be. The Bible gives us guidelines for expressing that anger in a healthy way. Paul writes, ”In your anger do not sin. ‘Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold’ (Ephesians 4:26-27). What great counsel!Yes, you and I will experience surges of anger from time to time. And that anger isn’t necessarily sinful. The key lies in dealing with that anger before it finds a place to lodge and take root in our hearts. We need to deal with relational problems right away and not allow them to fester or seethe within us. That’s where Satan finds a foothold in our lives.

James reminds us to be ‘slow to become angry. ‘Why? Because ‘man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires'(James 1:19-20). In other words, anger should not dominate our lives so that we’re living with a perpetual chip on our shoulder, ready to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. But neither James nor Paul says we should never be angry.

Of course, in some expressions of the Christian faith, anger is a no-no for both men and women. Some believe that everyone must be completely nice and pleasant at all times and that anyone showing anger is not a good Christian; he or she should work on the sinful attitude at the heart of the anger. But such a belief distorts how Christianity and reality are to be joined. Everyone, Christian or not, is going to get angry. The sooner this anger is expressed and resolved, the better. Yet many angry Christians don’t acknowledge they are angry, even as they see the with bitterness and resentment. Their denial of their feelings is both ineffective and unnecessary.

Without our anger we are unable to cleanse the temple of God and maintain its sanctity. Without our anger, we cannot get those people who violate the sanctity of our beings out of our lives. Without our anger, we are relegated to playing the role of enabler and victim.

Anger can be a mechanism of self-defense; those who deny its presence are vulnerable to manipulation and all forms of exploitation. People who don’t have the right to be angry become powerless, unable to stand for what is right.

Some of us are walking paradoxes: The emotions we are willing to show don’t match what we’re actually feeling. We are in a constant state of denial when it comes to our emotions. Women, though angry on the inside, feel safe if they only show their misery and depression. Men, feeling sad and depressed, will not risk being labeled weak by expressing their sadness. So they mask their depression by pushing people around through their anger.

Genuine healthy Christianity, however, is able to embrace who we are as human beings. God knows your struggles, your heartache, your brokenness. He doesn’t reject you because you have needs or feel strong flashfloods of emotion. Instead, he wants to point you to godly resources to meet those needs and ultimately, to himself. He made you. Who understands you better than he?God created us as emotional beings. He created us with needs. The key is that he wants every one of those needs to point us back to him.

Genuine Christian experience encourages believers to rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn'(Romans 12:15). It validates and honors the whole range of human emotion.

In healthy faith there is no need to hide our feelings. We can rejoice that God has given us emotions by which to experience the extremes of life. We should acknowledge them, confess them when they are based on a wrong view of God, and express them as they develop.

Healthy faith allows us to embrace all aspects of our humanity. It acknowledges our capacity to sin and make mistakes. There is no illusion of perfection, no need to be perfect or to hide when we fail. Healthy faith allows us to experience God’s mercy and grace and pass it along. As Paul noted, we who experience suffering and hurt and then feel the comfort of Christ are the ones best qualified to administer first aid to others.

We become wounded healers. . . just like Jesus.
If you found this article helpful or would like more information on this subject, please see More Jesus, Less Religion, New Life Perspectives CD Understanding Anger, or Boiling Point.

Your Stress Remedy: Meltdown or ??

When Jet Blue flight Attendant Steven Slater had a “meltdown,” grabbed two beers, deployed and slid down the airplane’s escape shoot, he struck a cord with many people nationwide. He was lauded as a hero on thousands of Facebook pages, and people on talk radio, as well, were all getting a good laugh. One commentator said if we all had an escape hatch, 80% of Americans would quit their job like that!

Yes, what he did was irresponsible…and not to be commended. Yet nevertheless, he gave Americans a chance to collectively lighten up a bit…and underscored the importance of dealing with stress before it reaches the boiling point.

Many people initially come to see me because of job stress…either from the work itself or because of the stresses of dealing with difficult people at the worksite..I tell them I don’t believe in stress…meaning stress needs to be dealt with in the beginning stages…before it becomes destructive. As an advocate of positive mental health, one of the things I emphasize is the need to lighten up. Humor is one of the best ways to do this. In the book The Psychology of Happiness by Arlene Matthews Uhl, pages 74 through 76, there are several quotes that give credibility of the effectiveness of laughter:

“When we laugh, we feel good. In fact, it is impossible to feel bad when we laugh. Even if we are in the midst of a highly stressful or sad time, laughter offers us an oasis. Research shows it can even help us recover from the extreme distress that accompanies life-changing losses…When a University of Tel Aviv researcher interviewed Holocaust survivors, humor was repeatedly mentioned as a mechanism for helping people to survive trauma. When a researcher at the university of California at Berkeley studied widows and widowers whose spouses had died six months before, he noted that those who had established the ability to laugh within weeks of their loved one’s passing displayed less stress and many more positive emotions two to four years later. Humor, it turns-out, is not only a unique human tool to facilitate survival, but also a mechanism to facilitate thriving and resilience. The more laughs we have in our life, the better able we are to handle whatever comes our way and the more we are able to take pleasure from each day…Laughter elevates natural mood-enhancing endorphins and releases the feel-good brain chemical dopamine. At the same time, laughter turns down our stress hormone spigot. Studies show it also significantly lowers the chemical cortisol, which is associated with negative stress…After exposure to humor, there is a general increase in our immune system activity.”

Scripture lists joy as the second fruit of the Spirit, and states: “a merry heart does good like medicine” …and Christ wanted His “joy to be full in them (us)”.

You can increase your joy and happiness…and lower your stress level…by learning to see the bright side, increasing your exposure to humorous videos, books, and magazines, sharing humor with fellow workers, surrounding yourself with lighthearted people, and most important praying for more of the joy of the Lord!

Other helpful hints to reduce stress are to get a good night’s sleep, have quality nutrition, participate in your favorite exercise daily, learn how to manage difficult people, have a daily dose of play (slide down the slide at a playground instead?) and take life one day at a time.

Steven Slater’s dramatic exit can serve to remind us all to lighten up on the job. Bringing in lots of joy and laughter at work and at home can go a long way towards preventing personal distress, depression, and general malaise. And those around you will be encouraged and refreshed by your cheerful attitude. Remember: “The joy of the Lord is our strength!”