Defeating Procrastination

Defeating Procrastination

When you make a vow to God, don’t delay fulfilling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow. – Ecclesiastes 5:4 HCSB

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When turbulent times arrive, it’s easy (and tempting) to avoid those hard-to-do tasks that you would prefer to avoid altogether. But the habit of procrastination takes a double toll: First, important work goes unfinished, and second, valuable energy is wasted in the process of putting off the things that remain undone.

If you find yourself bound by the chains of procrastination, ask yourself what you’re waiting for—or more accurately what you’re afraid of—and why. As you examine the emotional roadblocks that have, heretofore, blocked your path, you may discover that you’re waiting for the “perfect” moment, that instant in time when you feel neither afraid nor anxious. But in truth, perfect moments like these are few and far between.

So stop waiting for the perfect moment and focus, instead, on finding the right moment to do what needs to be done. Then, trust God and get busy. When you do, you’ll discover that you and the Father, working together, can accomplish great things      . . . and that you can accomplish them sooner rather than later.

Once you acquire the habit of doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done, you will avoid untold trouble, worry, and stress. So learn to defeat procrastination by paying less attention to your fears and more attention to your responsibilities. God has created a world that punishes procrastinators and rewards men and women who “do it now.” In other words, life doesn’t procrastinate. Neither should you.

Not now becomes never. ~ Martin Luther

Do noble things, do not dream them all day long. ~ Charles Kingsley

Do the unpleasant work first and enjoy the rest of the day. ~ Marie T. Freeman

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, when I am confronted with things that need to be done, give me the courage and the wisdom to do them now, not later. Amen

What is 12-Step Recovery?

 

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As a seminary graduate and pastor, I was skeptical about much of psychology and recovery programs. I did learn a little more when I watched My Name is Bill W.–the story of the man who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous–but not much. I suspected that group meetings were touchy-feely, superficial gripe sessions that allowed addicts to blame everyone else in their lives for their problems. My greatest reservation stemmed from the commitment to speak of the generic ‘higher power’ instead of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the true life-changing power.

My views changed immediately and dramatically when a new job required a visit to a substance abuse rehab center. I found myself sitting in a group therapy session with men and women from their late teens to 60′s. They came from upper class homes, middle class working families, and the streets. I was amazed that they treated each other as true peers. Their pointed questions and frank confessions scared me, but I recognized that this is what real conversion looks like’people struggling with real guilt having no other hope than experiencing genuine rescue through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, they were living in true Christian community.

12-step recovery is biblical:

In my personal Bible study, I have found the principles that supported the steps. I finally became convinced that the steps were biblical when I recognized that Paul made his confession in 1 Timothy 1:15 as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory: the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’.’ In verse 15, Paul then explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’of whom I am the worst.’ Later, I recognized the prodigal son experienced the admission expressed in the first step when he came to his senses. The 5th step is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ The 12 Steps help addicts face their sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.

12-step recovery is progressive:

Working the steps requires following a process that moves the addict from a life of isolation to healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 steps, you recognize the futility of your efforts to overcome your addiction by your own efforts and acknowledge your total dependence upon the Lord for help. In steps 4 through 6, you face the reality of your own brokenness due to sin and declare your readiness to have God transform you through the Gospel. In steps 7, 8, and 9, you work to repair the relationships that have been broken as a result of your addiction. In the final 3 steps, you work to advance the work already by growing in your knowledge of God and sharing what you’ve experienced with other addicts

12-step recovery is not self-help:

Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally, but cannot work the steps without help from others. Groups urge members to find a sponsor/mentor who has already worked the steps or a partner who can work them at the same time in order to provide accountability for working the steps. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work. You are choosing to end the hiding and isolation. You must begin by deepening your relationship with God first. If I don’t really trust Jesus, then I won’t be able to trust His people. In the group meeting, you invite the other members to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God Who has walked that valley first is essential.

12-step recovery is an adventure:

The function of a 12-step group is not a precise science, as group veterans will attest. There are healthy and unhealthy groups. A healthy group fosters wholeness as the members progress through the steps. An unhealthy group permits members to repeat the same confessions they have made previously. Healthy groups can have unproductive meetings and unhealthy groups can have productive meetings.

The single greatest factor influencing a group’s health and effectiveness is the commitment of each member to work the steps. Members must help each other face the external and internal triggers that make up their patterns of addiction. Each person experiences moments of strength and of weakness’moments when it seems much easier to return to the life of denial and blame-shifting than to keep growing by answering that difficult question that has just been posed.

Following the well-trod path outlined by the 12 Steps will help you to escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated your life and prevented you from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.

If you have a struggle with alcohol or drugs, we can help. Please see contact New Life Ministries at 800-639-5433.
If you’re struggle is with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Building a New Life

Building a New Life

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

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Your past sometimes gets in the way of your vision for the future, doesn’t it? If you allow yourself to dwell on the areas where you’ve failed or on losses and disappointments that hurt you, you might find it difficult to look forward to the future God has for you.

King David is a man who dreamed of building a magnificent temple. When he commissioned his son Solomon to do the work he said, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)  Many years later the apostle Paul said, “We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21)

Just as David dreamed of building a magnificent temple, you can dare to dream of building a new life. God has the blueprint already drawn up: just follow it by faith. You may be afraid that you will start and fail, but in the words of David, “be strong and courageous, and do the work.” As someone once said: Beginning is half done. In other words, take the first step, it’s the toughest.

What dreams have you been quietly suppressing? Perhaps you have dreamed of becoming a missionary? Maybe you have dreams of adopting. Or dreams of starting a new career. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about building deep friendships or making an impact on your community. Don’t be frightened. When God begins a good work, He is faithful to complete it.

It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars. – Garrison Keillor

The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be.  C.S. Lewis

 

New Life Live: November 6, 2013

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Topics: Sexual IntegrityAddictionsSelf WorthParentingBipolarSubstance AbuseAffairs
Hosts: Steve ArterburnDr. Sheri (Denham) KefferMilan Yerkovich

Caller Questions:

  1. Comment: Women In The Battle was a WOW weekend! 
  2. How do I discipline my kids without destroying their spirit? 
  3. I am bipolar and unemployed for 6yrs; how do I stop feeling like God is against me and not for me? 
  4. Will hypnotherapy help my husband work through childhood abuse that he doesn’t remember? 
  5. My husband connected with a woman on a business trip; is it appropriate for me to check his email? 

Suggested Resources:
7 Minute Marriage Solution Devotional Bible
How We Love Our Kids
Healing Is A Choice
7 Minute Marriage Solution
How We Love

Subscribe to the NEW LIFE LIVE Podcast via iTunes or streaming audio from Stitcher, the Smart Radio App.

New Life Live: August 29, 2013

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Topics: ControllerAdult ChildrenAngerDatingForgivenessBoundariesWorkplace
Hosts: Steve ArterburnMilan Yerkovich, Guest Host Marilyn Meberg

Caller Questions:

  1. What boundaries can I set for my 24yo controlling son? 
  2. My 20yo son comes home angry from church; how should I respond? 
  3. I have kids and am not married; how do I find a good man? 
  4. Is it possible to forgive my husband and still set boundaries? 
  5. What tips do you have for getting along with non-believers at work? 
  6. After my husband’s affair 3yrs ago, how can I resolve my intimacy issues? 

Suggested Resources:
Anger Workbook
Is This The One
Forgiving the Unforgivable
Being Christian
7 Minute Marriage Solution

Subscribe to the NEW LIFE LIVE Podcast via iTunes or streaming audio from Stitcher, the Smart Radio App.

Every Man’s Battle Workshop

This three-day workshop is the place where more than 10,000 men have engaged in the battle to get back their sexual integrity. Includes biblically-based teaching and in-depth process groups led by licensed Christian counselors.

Bounce Your Eyes

In talking to alumni over the past few weeks, the thing that seems to keep cropping up is, “It’s summertime, and the women are wearing less clothing. How do I deal with that?” This summer is the perfect opportunity to practice ‘bouncing the eyes’ as Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker wrote about in the ‘Every Man’s Battle‘ book.

First of all, what exactly is meant by ‘bouncing the eyes?’ Well, as those of you who have read the book will know, it’s not complicated, but it is extremely effective. Steve writes: “The problem is that your eyes have always bounced toward the sexual, and you’ve made no attempt to end this habit. To combat it, you need to build a reflex action by training your eyes to immediately bounce away from the sexual, like the jerk of your hand away from a hot stove. Let’s repeat that for emphasis: “When your eyes bounce toward a woman, they must bounce away immediately. . .”
If you bounce your eyes for six weeks, you can win this war. As I write this, it is the middle of July, which means there are six weeks left of summer. Coincidence? I think not!

First Step: Make a List of Your Enemies!
The first way to start, Fred tells us, is by making a list of your “greatest enemies”. These could be lingerie ads, either in a seemingly harmless department store catalog, or that Victoria’s Secret magazine that your wife left laying around. It could include billboards, it could be TV shows or ads, it may be female joggers, or maybe it’s that female co-worker who tends to dress a little suggestively. And then there’s always the beach.

Second Step: Set up a Battle Plan!
In any event, the second step is to set up a “battle plan”, a way you are going to get victory. Let’s look at each of our examples:

  •  If you are looking at a department store catalog, make a covenant with your eyes and with yourself that   you will only look at men’s clothes, and then you will close it.
  • And if Victoria’s Secret is an issue, simply ask your wife to be discreet with where she leaves it. She will respect you for being honest with her.
  • If billboards are a problem on your drive into work, and an alternate route is out of the question, make a mental note of which streets or exits on the freeway the billboards falls between, and then as you approach that area, focus on something else; prayer, some verses you’ve memorized, or even something else near the road that is neutral.
  • As far as the TV goes, use your TV guide, turn on one show that you know is safe, and don’t flip around during commercials. Or if you’re watching a ball game and the advertisements are the problem, have the remote handy, and when the commercials come on, go to a program that you have already designated as being safe.
  • Joggers. Practice bouncing your eyes to the other side of the road, or straight ahead. It will be tough at first but if you continue to do it, it will get easier as time goes on.
  • At work, again, practice bouncing the eyes onto something else when that female comes into your line of sight. Have a picture of your family at your work place. Pretend that your wife, or if you’re single, maybe Jesus, is sitting next to you at your desk or wherever you’re working.
  • If you have a problem at the beach, don’t go, at least until you feel this part of your life is under control. There are other ways to have fun during the summer.

The above suggestions are admittedly not rocket science, but too many of us neglect them. Let’s use this summer as a way to get victory, not an excuse to act out. Make it a goal to be regularly bouncing your eyes by Labor Day. God will honor you for it.

For more help, see Every Man’s Battle. You can also call 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433)

New Life Live: July 4, 2013

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Topics: ParentingMarriageDivorceBlended FamiliesAdult ChildrenAnxiety
Hosts: Steve ArterburnDr. Henry CloudDr. Dave Stoop
Caller Questions:

  1. What boundaries should I set for my 17yo daughter who doesn’t want to work? 
  2. My husband prefers my sisters to stay in a hotel and not with us, but I don’t agree. 
  3. Why did I choose my husband? After 3yrs I think he is lying and cheating on me. 
  4. Should I unfile for divorce? 
  5. Do I need to take responsibility for my 20yo stepson? My wife thinks so. 
  6. Is my panic in the middle of the night caused by anxiety? 

Suggested Resources:
7 Minute Marriage Solution
Forgiving the Unforgivable
You Are What You Think

Subscribe to the NEW LIFE LIVE Podcast via iTunes or streaming audio from Stitcher, the Smart Radio App.

New Life Live: June 17, 2013

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Topics: AffairsDivorceDatingChurch Life
Hosts: Steve ArterburnDr. Henry Cloud
Caller Questions:

  1. My husband is not a sex addict, but he had a 3-day affair; is there help for him? 
  2. I am a Club New Life member and want to wish Steve a happy birthday! 
  3. Do you have any advice on men entering divorce? 
  4. I’m a conservative Christian dating a Pentecostal; can we make this work? 
  5. How can I find dates if my pastor says it is wrong for women to seek men? 

Suggested Resources:
Is This the One
Healing Is a Choice
7 Minute Marriage Solution
How To Get a Date Worth Keeping

Subscribe to the NEW LIFE LIVE Podcast via iTunes or streaming audio from Stitcher, the Smart Radio App.

The secret to making New Year’s resolutions stick

By Dr. Henry Cloud | Published December 29, 2012 | FoxNews.com

There are three areas in life where we make resolutions: clinical (how you feel), relationships (marriage, dating, family friends, work) and performance (dreams, goals, talents, accomplishments).

Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions in the next few days in one or more of these areas, but there’s a problem with those resolutions. Most of them will be based on will power, commitment, or trying to make better choices.

While commitment is important, it always fails without another ingredient: we have to develop the capacity to reach those goals. Research shows that people who succeed do so by opening themselves up to capacity building from the outside.

How do you get that capacity to succeed and make sure 2013 is not what I call a “groundhog year”?

When you put your New Year’s resolutions into your schedule, you have to figure out where the power drains and old patterns of failure come from and begin to say no.

You’re going to need two things: 1) a new energy source and 2) a structure or template to guide that energy. For example, if you want to stay on a diet, you need the energy of a support group and the structured guide of a program plan of diet and exercise. That kind of structure in any endeavor along with energy will close the gap. It can be a coach, a buddy system, an accountability partner, joining a program or reading new books—there are a million different ways to structure a growth pattern, you just have to get in one. Having said that, I’m going to give you a few more tips:

First of all, the biggest mistake people make is trying to accomplish the goal based on commitment and trying harder. That will fail.

Instead, get together with people who are already accomplishing what you want to accomplish. If you want to become healthy, you have to surround yourself with a group of people that are getting healthy and you have to be connected to a community that is doing what you want to do. That is why programs such as Weight Watchers, or other support communities are so powerful.

If you want to become more spiritual, you’ve got to get connected with a group of people that are growing in that area, instead of just thinking you will do it and sustain it on your own.

We know from research that growth is actually contagious so if you want to reach your goals, you’ve got to get around people that are going in the same direction you want to be going and you will catch the success. The data proves it.

Also, expect to fail. That’s right—both you and I—nobody gets it perfectly all the time. Here is what’s actually going to happen: you’re going to blow it!

If your resolution is to lose weight, there will be a time when you’re going to eat five days worth of Weight Watchers points in one day. Don’t interpret that as a horrible thing, that’s a normal part of the process.

The problem is that people blow it and then they feel bad about it. Then they go off and binge eat in order to get over feeling bad about it and then they drop their whole plan altogether.

Instead, when you blow it, accept your setbacks as normal.

Don’t use all or nothing thinking. Take each day as its own day and don’t worry about it if you mess up one day. The most important thing you can do is just get back up on the horse.

Remember: perfection goals fail, while “get better goals” succeed. Just do better tomorrow than you did today.

Next, ask yourself, “why hasn’t this worked before? How did I fail last year?” We don’t usually need new ways of failing; the old ways tend to work just fine.

Are there people that normally get you off track? Do you have trouble saying no? Do you fail one day, get discouraged and quit? Do you fail to protect the time you need in order to get things done?

I remember when I wrote my first book, “Changes that Heal,” I never could find a way to actually get it done. Then I thought to myself, “why have I not been able to do this before?” I had not been able to do it because I had never blocked off the time that I really needed to finish the project. So, I made a commitment and a priority that for the next six months from Friday when I got off of work at 5 o’clock until Monday when I went back to work that I would lock myself up and I would not do anything but work on my book. I had just one exception to the rule and that was that I’d let myself go out to dinner for two hours on Saturday evening. I said no to everything that would interfere with my plan and I had accountability with others.

You’ve got to set some boundaries to protect what you’re trying to build. When you put your New Year’s resolutions into your schedule, you have to figure out where the power drains and old patterns of failure come from and begin to say no. It’s important to create some very protective boundaries.

Another important item is to have sub-goals. You’re not going to lose 100 pounds immediately but what is your plan for tomorrow? Go on a 45-minute walk and work up a brisk sweat? Here’s an example of sub-goals: when I was writing my book, if the whole book was 100,000 words my goal for tomorrow might be to write 2,000 words.

If your resolution is to get out of debt, you can skip eating lunch out each day and start sending that money in to pay off credit card debt. Then, voila…in six months that credit card might be paid off. As you’ll begin to see, your daily goals help you fulfill your larger goal. Sub-goals are very, very important.

Lastly, also remember that the goals you choose are important, too. Some goals are not going to fulfill you. Choose goals that you value and care about.

Do all these things and I bet 2013 will be better than 2012.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries